Pope, Richard (Dick) Hudson
Author & Composer
b Putney, SW London 1879, d 1967. St Mark’s Sch, Chelsea. Raised in a strict, loving and godly family, he showed an early talent for writing (from pious hymns to gruesome ditties) and music (playing tunes by ear at the piano, and learning the violin at the age of 6). Converted at the age of 14, he and his friend Cecil were the only visible fruit from a mission in Putney in 1893. At 15 he began 7 years of clerical work in an insurance office; at 17 he was baptized and with two friends began a boys’ club, soon afterwards helping with a beach mission in N Wales led by Harold (‘Pa’) Salmon. Reining in a natural gift for comedy, used among boys until it became too dominant, he worked in a social settlement in Ipswich 1902–03, then as warden of a boys’ home there, until joining CSSM in 1906. He became ‘the prince of children’s evangelists’ who led seaside missions with CSSM/Scripture Union for 50 years, living in Leeds from the time of his marriage in 1910, until retiring, recently widowed, at the of 80. This included the sending and receiving of thousands of personal letters; beneath the simplicity of his approach were principles of gospel work carefully thought out and tested by experience. He was a colleague of E H Gladstone Sargent, George and Montague Goodman and Guy King, and shared in leading Crusader classes; among others he profoundly influenced EGH Nash (‘Bash’), founder of a remarkable boys camp movement; see under RJB Eddison. RHP (as he was known) believed that children welcomed solid Christian truth, presented simply and attractively with a light touch and ample illustration—not mere moral peptalks. One of his mottoes was ‘Never under-rate the under-eights’. He kept Sunday strictly special; even some of his own contemporaries found him slightly old-fashioned and had reservations about his emphasis on sin, but he led countless younger children to a saving knowledge of Christ. He trained younger leaders mainly by example, but also wrote To Teach Others Also, Hints to Personal Workers and (a booklet reprinted as part of an SU series) Know How to Evangelise Children. A keen supporter of the S Africa General Mission, he allowed that society to benefit through his other writings. His music was basic, unorthodox and effective; most of his verse compositions consist of simple single-stz songs of which several appear in CSSM/SU Choruses (1st edn 1921, combined edn 1964). But 6 of his texts and 12 tunes, many in a stirring ‘gospel battle’ mode, appeared in the 1925 edn of Golden Bells. At 81 he addressed the Keswick Convention; near the end of his life he said ‘I have often failed, but never doubted’. A biography, R Hudson Pope, was written by Patricia St John in the year of his final illness, with a thoughtful Introduction by John M Laird, SU’s Gen Sec 1946–67. No.684.