Skip to content

Bonhams to auction author's handwritten copy of well known hymn

A copy, in the author’s hand, of one of the best known and loved hymns in the English language, Onward Christian Soldiers, is being sold at auction in London on 10 April ...

A copy, in the author’s hand, of one of the best known and loved hymns in the English language, Onward Christian Soldiers, is being sold at auction in London on 10 April ...

The manuscript is to be auctioned in the sale of The Roy Davids Collection Part III: Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets at Bonhams, New Bond Street, London on 10 April.  
 
Onward Christian Soldiers was written by the Rev Sabine Baring-Gould in 1865, when he was a curate in Yorkshire. He wanted something for the local village children to sing while they walked to a schools’ Whit Day Festival and scribbled the words down in haste the evening before.  

For a tune, he borrowed the melody from the slow movement of Haydn’s Symphony No 15. In 1871, Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan) secured the hymn’s enduring popularity when he set the words to the stirring music which has become so familiar.
 
By modern standards, Sabine Baring-Gould was a remarkable man. He fathered 15 children; published over 1240 works including a standard book on the history of were-wolves; collected English Folk songs which he printed in censored form (but sensibly ensured that the original wording was preserved) and was a leading light in the early exploration of the history of Dartmoor.    
 
The manuscript is expected to sell for £1,000-1,500. 
 
For more information on the sale, go to www.bonhams/books.

Get more inspiring reading

Our print magazine for INSPIRE is currently on hold while we explore new funding options for a relaunch later this year. If you'd like to be kept up to date with developments, ready to order the new title once it's available, email editor@inspiremagazine.org.uk

Subscribe

Join the discussion