Ferguson, John


b Manchester 1921, d Birmingham 1989. Having trained in classics and theology he was appointed Prof of Classics at the Univ of Ibadan, Nigeria; and became founding Dean of Arts in the UK’s Open University; President of the Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham. An amateur actor, playwright, cricketer, singer and musical conductor who directed Gilbert and Sullivan operas, he also wrote more than 70 books including The Enthronement of Love (1950), Nigeria under the Cross (1965); Disarmament: the Unanswerable Case (1982) and Give Peace a Chance (1988). He was a lay preacher, mainly in the URC, and hymnal committee chairman. A convinced Christian pacifist, with his wife Elnora he co-edited Reconciliation Quarterly for the Fellowship of Reconciliation (which he chaired for many years) and was in demand as a conference speaker. In the early 1960s he took part in the ground-breaking hymnwriting initiatives of the groups meeting in Dunblane, Scotland. His Hymns of a Layman and Other Verses featured nearly 100 of his texts, with his own Foreword summarising his view of hymns; other selections appeared in a supplementary hymnbook for the Univ of Ibadan and in the periodical Hymns and Congregational Songs, notably in a posthumous issue (with 7 of his texts) in Oct 1990. Rejoice and Sing (1991) is one of a dozen books to include Am I my brother’s keeper? (1967, a 1st line used by J Ryland in 1786), which like many of his verses brings the OT to bear on both the Christian gospel and its implications for social needs; see also the notes on Ryland. No.943.

Hymns and songs by Ferguson, John

Number Hymn Name
943 All who wake tonight