Midlane, Albert


b Carisbrooke nr Newport, Isle of Wight, Hants 1825, d Newport, 1909. Following a printing apprenticeship he joined his father as a tinsmith and ironmonger, later to run his own business in Newport IoW. He belonged to the St James’s Street Congregational Ch, where he was encouraged by his Sunday School teacher and wrote his first hymn at the age of 17, before joining the Strict (or Closed) Brethren at 23. Among them he became known as ‘the poet-preacher’; John Andrews describes him as ‘moderate Exclusive’ who wrote too much. His first hymn, written at Carisbrooke Castle, was published in The Youth’s Magazine in 1842. He was to write at least 500 (Gordon Taylor, following David Sale, says ‘more than 1000’; elsewhere the figure 1100 is quoted), many for children and for Sunday School use, publishing these over a period in 6 volumes. Some also appeared in The Gospel Hall Hymn Book of 1904; that year also saw the arrival of The Bright Blue Sky Hymn Book (with 315 of his hymns) and a broadsheet of 7 hymns for Jewish Children, connected with the Mildmay Mission to the Jews. The ‘bright blue sky’ is a phrase from line 2 of There’s a Friend for little children (1859) which enjoyed wide popularity for a century and is still in use, often much-revised (as in HTC). It was sung by 3000 children in St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate its ‘jubilee’ in 1909, with a similar event in Newport IoW in its author’s presence not long before his death. Julian devotes 3 full columns to Midlane’s work, which dealt more in practical applications (including gospel invitations) than with doctrine. It was also favoured by C B Snepp (see under F R Havergal) and C H Spurgeon, who chose 24 of his hymns for Our Own Hymn Book (1866). Carisbrooke Castle houses a museum containing some Midlane memorabilia including photos etc. No.540.

Hymns and songs by Midlane, Albert

Number Hymn Name
540 Revive your church, O Lord