Eddison, Robert John Buchanan
b Derbyshire 1916, d Lingfield, Surrey 2011. Wellington Coll, Trinity Coll Cambridge (MA, History) and Ridley Hall Cambridge; ordained (CofE) 1939. After a curacy at Tunbridge Wells he was a Travelling Secretary for Scripture Union from 1942 80, retiring in 1981 and living in Crowborough, Sussex. Much of that time was filled with a nationwide ministry among schoolboys, both in school (where his gift for the apt illustration kept him in demand as a preacher) and in the Christian camps and holiday houseparties he helped to organise. Of nearly 30 publications on Christian faith and life, some translated into other languages, his first was Newness of Life and among the best known Step by Step and Who Died Why. In 1983 he edited and introduced A Study in Spiritual Power, an appreciation of E J H Nash, founder of the ‘Bash’ camps for boys (new edn 1992) and in 1986 he wrote The Last Lap (on ‘retirement and the latter years: a time of opportunity’). His gift for writing comic verse, sometimes gently satirical, was exercised well into old age. When he came to need more support he moved into the College of St Barnabas at Lingfield, Surrey, for Anglican clergy, where John R W Stott, a friend for more than 70 years, was later to join him. He died peacefully there on 10 May 2011.
John Eddison wrote several hymn-texts from the early 1940s onwards (well before the ‘hymn-explosion’!), soon moving from ‘thee-language’ to ‘you’. Seven were included in the supplement Songs of Worship, 1980, notably ‘At the cross of Jesus I would take my place’, and ‘Father, although I cannot see/ the future you have planned’. Both have also featured, as here, in full-scale hymn-books, the latter with at least three new tunes; his obituary in HSB (July 2011) noted that ‘both are notable for their clarity and simplicity of language, well-honed by his lifelong ministry among a much younger generation, with a total absence of conscious cleverness but with all the marks of a mind and heart steeped in the scriptures’. Nos.414, 870.