Birthdays on October 7

William Laud (1573 to 1654)
Church of England
Loveless Laud lost his head.

William Laud was born in Reading, England. A strong opponent of Calvinism and Presbyterianism, he was harsh in his treatment of Englishmen who did not embrace the Church of England. Imprisoned by Parliament, he was beheaded in 1645, preaching a sermon on the scaffold as he prepared to die.

Henry Alford (1810 to 1871)
Church of England
Lasting legacy of Bible studies and hymns.

Birth of Henry Alford. Ordained in 1834, he pastored the rest of his life. For twenty years he worked on The New Testament in Greek. He was an original member of the committee that revised the English New Testament. He also authored hymns, including the well-known "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come."

Charles C. Converse (1832 to 1918)
Highbrow forgotten, simple tune remembered.

Charles C. Converse was born in Warren, Massachussets. He is best known as the composer of the hymn tune to which we sing "What a friend we have in Jesus." He had studied at Leipzig and wrote cantatas, oratorios and other high-brow works, none of which are remembered like his one famous hymn tune.

William Billings (1746 to 1800)
Congregational Church
Being best didn't feed Billings.

William Billings was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Apprenticed as a youth to a tanner, he had no musical training and was largely self-taught. Though he became one of the best musicians in colonial America, he never was able to earn his living from music. He was forced to serve Boston as a hogreve (to keep the swine off the streets) and street cleaner. An enthusiastic singing master and a popular composer Billings was nonetheless sightless in one eye, had a withered arm, legs of different lengths, a loud, rasping voice and a slovenly appearance. His "Easter Anthem" is splendid. The melody of his hymn tune Chester became the virtual theme music of the American Bicentennial.


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