A Newsletter of Opinion on Current Australian Christianity

Robert Harkness – 9

The Melbourne Crusade montage below from April 1912 is copied from Helen Alexander’s book, see earlier reference.  After this crusade the team headed back to England in 1913.

harkness Melbourne 1912

When the First World War broke out, Robert worked in England for a while with the mission team in meetings specifically for young volunteers in the armed forces.  But after several months of this work Robert and Ruth decided it had become necessary for him to look for a permanent home in London since, as Robert could once support himself through evangelistic work, the same was not available now that there were two mouths to feed.

It was a hard decision to make but Robert sought work during the War and regretfully resigned on good terms from the Chapman-Alexander team.  Charles Alexander soon found another excellent young pianist in Henry Barraclough, who also wrote and played hymns, including the very famous “Ivory Palaces” which he wrote inspired by a Wilbur Chapman sermon.

During the War Robert wrote and had published several non-religious songs including “For King and Country” which became a great patriotic song widely acclaimed and sung in all countries of the British Empire.  “Downhearted? No!” was also written during the War, as were others designed to stimulate patriotism.

After World War I ended Robert and Ruth moved to the USA where Robert could find more outlets for his prodigious talent, living in Pasadena, California.  While located here, he and Ruth produced numerous publications including Christian Piano Playing Correspondence Courses which attracted thousands of students.

Over the years they also produced a monthly journal, “The Sacred Musician: A Sacred Music Magazine”, numerous other hymns and Christian songs.  Robert also wrote a book called “Reuben Archer Torrey: The Man and His Message” which faithfully portrays the great evangelist.

Robert and Ruth also frequently conducted sacred music concerts in USA, Britain, Australia and Scandinavia to the spiritual benefit of many thousands of souls.

Much of the information referred to in this blog is found in Cole, Keith, Robert Harkness, The Bendigo Hymnwriter, Bendigo, 1988.

NEXT ISSUE: The Later Years.

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