Jack Adamson and Wellington traditions

by Christine Johnston

A friend, Margaret Anderson, of Jordanhill Church, recently bought a second-hand book through the Internet, and found in it a newspaper cutting of a letter written by Jack Adamson.  Jack Adamson is still talked about today in relation to his generous legacy to Wellington. He was a long-term and loyal member of Wellington Church, and mentioned in Ian Rodger’s book “Wellington 1884-1984”:  1976 – On 29th January Mr John L Adamson died (an elder since 1937).  For many years he had made the arrangements for elders’ duties at Communion services.  He left a generous legacy to be used by the Projects Committee for Wellington purposes.

The terms of the legacy were to “be used or retained for future use in furthering “any missionary project” in which Wellington Church is directly or actively concerned at home or abroad and that it should not be paid over, in whole or in part, to any missionary fund controlled by the Church of Scotland or any other missionary organisation.”

Since 1976 the income from Jack Adamson’s legacy has been put to good use in support of projects at home and abroad.  In the late 1990s the fund came under the remit and work of the Community of Mission and now it lies with the Mission and Outreach Committee of the Kirk Session.

But back to the letter in the newspaper cutting.  Unfortunately there is no mention of the newspaper, though perhaps we could hazard a guess that it is the Glasgow Herald; and there is no date, although an advertisement on the back of the cutting quotes a price of 1/6d and so it must predate decimalisation in February 1971.  I have tried to find the psalm tune in question and it is not in any of the hymn books I have – the Internet only produced a midi file for me, so I could listen to it and I do agree with the letter writer that it is haunting.  It might be interesting to find it and revive it!  Here is the text of the letter:

 The tune Boswell

Dear Sir, Re the letter “That haunting tune Boswell”. 

I have a copy of “The Presbyterian Psalter and Hymnal,” issued by authority of the Synod of the United Presbyterian Church – dated Edinburgh, February 20, 1878.  A forenote from the Psalmody Committee says: “It is most earnestly recommended that the psalms be sung to the tunes ‘indicated’ and the tune indicated for the 42nd Paraphrase is of course ‘Boswell’!!”  This was the book used by all U.P. Congregations (including Palmerston Place), until the United Free Church came into being.  After this a new Psalter was produced, which in turn after many years was revised, but I regret to say from both books “Boswell” was left out.

If Mr Peter Brown should happen to be in Glasgow on any of the second Sundays of October, December, March or June, I invite him to attend the morning Communion service in Wellington Church.  Here all through the years we have continued to close with the 42nd Paraphrase sung to his beloved tune, which to many of us still holds sacred and hallowed memories.  Yours faithfully, Jack Adamson, 39 Partickhill Road, Glasgow W1.

 I can’t help feeling regret that this kind of subject matter is highly unlikely to appear in the letter pages of our national and regional newspapers nowadays.  Although there are still very strongly held views about church music, they would not make it through the editors’ selection processes.  With thanks to Margaret for bringing the letter to my attention!       boswell

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