The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

William Batchelder Bradbury
1816-1868

Photograph of William Batcheler BradburyBorn: October 6, 1816, York, Maine.

For Bradbury’s biography, click here. (Link opens at Hymnsys)

Died: January 7, 1868, Montclair, New Jersey.

Buried: Bloomfield Cemetery, Bloomfield, New Jersey.

Reproduction of Fresh Laurels

William Bradbury was a successful composer, also well known for making vast improvements in children's music. When he was fourteen, Bradbury moved with his family to Boston, Massachusetts where he attended the Boston Academy of Music. It was from Sumner Hill in Boston that Bradbury learned much about music harmony. Also adding to Bradbury's musical education was Lowell Mason. Mason was the choir director at the time Bradbury joined the Bowdoin Street Church choir and it was with Mason's encouragement that Bradbury soon went to Machias, Maine and also to St. John's, New Brunswick to teach music classes. Beginning in 1841, Bradbury was the organist at the First Baptist Church in New York City. He also worked as a choir director in several Baptist Churches, working especially well with children's choirs. About this time, young Bradbury began giving free singing classes to children, an idea taken from Lowell Mason. Mason was an advocate of music in Boston public schools and it was from his example that Bradbury became involved in bringing music into the New York City public-school system.

In 1847, Bradbury left his job as organist and spent two years in Europe with his family. He studied music and teaching techniques in Germany and England. After Bradbury returned to New York, he spent much time composing tunes and compiling music collections. Over all, Bradbury published 59 compilations of sacred as well as secular music. Bradbury continued his free music classes and he also conducted annual music festivals in New York City. Over 1,000 children came to these festivals to learn about music and to sing songs, many of them Bradbury's compositions. As a reward for his efforts, Bradbury was also able to teach music in New York's public schools.

William Bradbury founded Bradbury Piano Company with his brother in 1854. Despite Bradbury's many accomplishments, he is still most widely known for his hymn tunes and compilations. The Jubilee, 1858, was a very successful singing book edited by Bradbury. The simple, fitting melodies composed by Bradbury for Sunday School and congregational use have brought many hymn texts alive.

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