A Newsletter of Opinion on Current Australian Christianity


Robert Harkness – 6

At this point in the story I feel I must acknowledge the major reference on Charles Alexander from which I have taken details and a few photographs featuring Robert Harkness (circled below).  Alexander, Helen Cadbury, Charles M. Alexander: A Romance in Song and Soul Winning, 1924,  is still available secondhand but is not currently in print.  It is also available on the internet at:


harkness 1905

In the photo above (1906) Harkness is standing next to Torrey, then Alexander and his wife Helen.

In 1906 the mission team conducted meetings in Canada, the USA and China before heading on to Australia in 1907 where missions were held in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo as well as Sydney and Melbourne.   

In August, when he was returning to the USA, Robert wrote the following letter to a friend:

“You will notice that I am writing to you on the train bound for New York from Chicago.  This past week for me has been a very busy one.  I left Northfield, Mass. last Monday, and travelled a thousand miles to Chicago, stayed there a night, then went on to Lake Winona, Ind., where I spent the night at the great Christian Workers’ Convention.  On Thursday I went on to Grand Rapids, Mich., where Mr Alexander and I conducted a great meeting in a theatre.  After that meeting we took a midnight train for Chicago, and after spending nine hours in that city, we boarded this train for Philadelphia.  By the time I reach that city I will have covered, in five days, 2500 miles.

 “Since leaving Australia last May, I have spent a few weeks in England, and a few weeks at Northfield, taking part in the convention.  This is conducted by the two sons of the late D.L. Moody.  Thousands of people gather to those meetings and you may be sure it is a very inspiring time.  Mr Alexander had charge of the music, and had a large choir to help in the singing … 

” Mr Alexander and I return to England within the next two weeks.  We expect to spend a couple of months there, and then probably return to this country for meetings.  Dr Torrey will continue with his meetings in this country apart from Mr Alexander…” 

Truly, the whole mission team considered it a great privilege to serve God in this way.  They travelled where they were invited and constantly had to discern the Lord’s leading to all parts of the world, therefore their plans were never watertight.   

In 1908 Charles Alexander and Reuben Torrey decided amicably to move in different directions, and Dr Chapman became Alexander’s new fellow yoke-man.


NEXT ISSUE:  A Third Visit to Australia.

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