Bayly, Albert Frederick


b Bexhill, E Sussex 1901, d Chichester, W Sussex 1984. He was received into membership of the local Congregational Church at 13; attended Hastings Grammar Sch but left early to train as a shipwright at Portsmouth’s Royal Dockyard Sch. When the family moved to nearby Waterlooville he attended the Baptist ch there with them. But he gained an external BA in 1924 with a view to the Congregational ministry, to which he was ordained at Whitley Bay nr Tynemouth in 1929 following a course at Mansfield Coll Oxford—about which he wrote several poems. By this time he had moved decisively to a Christian pacifist position following disillusion with the 1914–18 war. In 1938 he moved to Morpeth, Northumberland, joining the Red Cross and First Aid unit when war was declared in 1939. In 1946 he was called to a pastorate at Burnley, Lancs (where he wrote many hymns and a carol, ‘If Christ were born in Burnley’); after being rejected for overseas service, he then ministered in Swanland, Humberside; Eccleston, Lancs; and from 1962 in Thaxted, Essex, retiring to Chelmsford in 1972. Fascinated as a young man by astronomy, he became a pioneer in relating scientific advances such as space exploration to expressions of praise in hymns, and was one of the few hymn-writers beginning his work in ‘thou’ language who revised his texts to a more contemporary idiom; as such he has been called not only a forerunner and ‘pioneer…of the renaissance of English-language hymnwriting which began in 1960s Britain’ (Brian Wren) but also (at least in the UK) ‘the last of the old and the first of the new’. He sought the advice of Erik Routley, who as well as suggesting tunes was one of some 30 composers to provide new ones for his texts. Small home-made words-only booklets of ‘hymns and verse’ were issued in 1950 (Rejoice, O People), 1967 (Again I say Rejoice), 1971 (Rejoice Always), 1977 (Rejoice in God) and 1982 (Rejoice Together, which included hymns about all the OT writing prophets). 12 of his texts featured in a 95- hymn supplement prepared by Rodborough Tabernacle Congregational Ch nr Stroud, Glos. His life and work featured in the 2nd of Bernard Braley’s 3 studies Hymnwriters 2 (1989). A posthumous collection with introduction and notes by David Dale was published in 2004, reverting to the original title Rejoice, O People. This was named after his first text (‘A Hymn of the World-Wide Church’), written in 1945 for the 150th anniversary of the London Missionary Society and featured in major hymnals from 1951 (BBC Hymn Book and Congregational Praise) onwards. It is one of his 5 hymns in the Baptist supplement Praise for Today (1974), 3 of which were retained for the 1991 Baptist Praise and Worship. In 1981 he wrote (to the Anglican editor Geoffrey Whitehead) ‘I do not require any personal fee for the use of my hymns’. He loved walking and was committed to a simple life-style, disarmament and international, inter-church friendship; he was a keen supporter and an Hon Vice-President of the Hymn Society, whose conference at Chichester he had enjoyed in the days immediately preceding his sudden death. Nos.818, 934.

Hymns and songs by Bayly, Albert Frederick

Number Hymn Name
818 What does the Lord require
934 O God, your life-creating love