October 6, 1816, York, Maine.

January 7, 1868, Montclair, New Jersey.

Bloomfield Cemetery, Bloomfield, New Jersey.


Though fond of music from an early age, Bradbury was unable to devote much time to its study until age 17, when, with help from friends, he attended the Academy of Music in Boston, run by Lowell Mason and George Webb. About this time, says Theodore Seward, an incident occurred which was a great source of mortification for the young enthusiast. His parents, both of them old fashioned singers, were, of course, greatly interested in their son’s progress. He went home from school one night, full of ardor and excitement, and undertook to demonstrate the new method of singing and beating time. His gestures were so extravagant, swinging his arm nearly its whole length, that his parents were far more amused than edified. However, they restrained their mirth, not wishing to check his enthusiasm, but at last the scene became too much for them, and they burst into a peal of unresistible [sic] laughter. This was too much for the eager performer. His rapture was turned into fiery indignation, and slamming his book shut in a rage, he declared that they knew nothing at all about music, and marched out of the room.

Another disappointment occurred in his first appointment for a singing school. After issuing many circulars and ads, he anticipated a great crowd, but at the appointed time, not a single soul was there to greet him. After a while a young man appeared, and still later five more came to witness the embarrassment of the young teacher, who sat on the platform in a clammy perspiration, inwardly longing for some blessed knot-hole through which he might disappear. This magnificent fizzle is spoken of as great value to him in bringing him down from the clouds, and was probably more service than a grand success would have been. Through the influence of his former teacher, Lowell Mason, he secured a position as a singing school teacher in Machias, Maine, and afterward in St. John, New Brunswick. At length a position was given him as music teacher at the First Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York, and later at the Baptist Tabernacle in New York City.

In 1841, Bradbury turned his attention to children, and first held his free singing classes, which became very popular. At his annual Juvenile Music Festivals, one could see a thousand children on a rising platform, the girls wearing white, with white wreaths and blue sashes, and the boys in jackets, with collars turned over in Byron style. These efforts among the young gave Bradbury great celebrity, a host of warm friends, and eventually led to his life work of providing Sunday School songs. Over three million copies of his Golden Trio, Golden Chain, Golden Shower, and Golden Censer were published.

When Bradbury was about 15 years old, he joined the Charles Street Baptist Church in Boston, Massachusetts. In New York he joined the Baptist Tabernacle, and for many years later in life, he attended the Presbyterian Church of Bloomfield, New Jersey. His widow related, He was not strictly sectarian in his views, often saying he belonged to the children’s church, meaning that wherever he could meet with children and do them good he felt at home.

In 1847, Bradbury went to Europe to study music under the best German masters. While crossing the Alps, he related this incident: Having met a German, who was so enraptured, as he beheld the Alpine peaks bathed with the golden glories of the rising sun, that he sang for joy. Not wishing to be outdone by a foreigner, especially in my own profession, I commenced singing. This captivated the foreigner so that he would not rest till he was taught the same pieces. This was the only music-lesson I gave on top of the Alps.

Bradbury was a very generous man. A theology student once wrote him for a loan of five dollars, that he might buy himself a pair of boots. Bradbury sent him a check for $25, and a note saying he could not spare $5 at the moment, but that he might manage to do without the $25 until he could send $5 later.

In the rear of one Bradbury’s New York warehouses was a small office where he often went to renew his strength and mount up with wings as eagles. Whenever he had to leave his house without sufficient prayer time, it was said, he would go to this private sanctuary and spend time in his devotions. Nor did he allow business to intrude on this habit. His much loved Bible occupied a prominent place on the table, and was well worn and filled with marked passages that had illuminated in his own experience. In his private journal he wrote, The 37th Psalm has been to me a never-failing source of comfort and consolation. My little Bible frequently opens to it of its own accord. The 27th is also a favorite when the enemy comes in like a flood.

Bradbury suffered from tuberculosis the last two years of his life. A few weeks before his death, he said to Theodore Seward, I long to be free from this evil body, which does so much to drag me down. I feel that I want to do right, that I want to love my Saviour, and act to please Him, but this busy brain and hasty nature lead me oftentimes to things that are contrary to the real feelings of my heart. A week before his death the children of Montclair visited him, each bringing an oak leaf, which were woven into a wreath which was laid on his coffin and buried with him. The Saturday before his death he remarked to a friend, My soul seems to have gained the victory. I am so happy now. I rest wholly upon Christ. May God give me the grace to die. I am going to see mother. He was buried beside his mother, and Asleep in Jesus was sung as it was at his mother’s burial.

Bradbury’s works include:

  1. Let the Gospel Trumpet Sound
  1. Aletta
  2. Andre
  3. Away
  4. Baca
  5. Balm
  6. Bartimeus
  7. Bible, The
  8. Bradbury
  9. Brown
  10. Caddo
  11. Cayman
  12. Children’s Savior, The
  13. Clarksville
  14. Come Again
  15. Córdoba
  16. Cry from Macedonia, A
  17. Don’t Forget the Sabbath
  18. Even Me
  19. Glorious Morning, The
  20. Glory to God in the Highest
  21. Grand Canyon
  22. Harvey’s Chant
  23. He Leadeth Me
  24. Heavenly Land, The
  25. House upon a Rock, The
  26. Howell
  27. I Think, When I Read That Sweet Story
  28. In a Manger Laid So Lowly
  29. Jazer
  30. Jesus, Hear Me
  31. Jesus Loves Me
  32. Lamb That Was Slain, The
  33. Laurels, Fresh Laurels
  34. Lord of the Gospel Harvest
  35. Kirkwood
  36. Köln
  37. Leaf
  38. Lottie
  39. Marching Along
  40. Mason’s Chant
  41. Meroe
  42. Missionary
  43. Monora
  44. Montclair
  45. Morris’ Chant
  46. My Latest Sun Is Sinking Fast
  47. Never Be Afraid
  48. Oh Bliss of the Purified
  49. Olive’s Brow
  50. Redal
  51. Rest
  52. Rio Grande
  53. Rolland
  54. Sabaoth
  55. Salome
  56. Solid Rock
  57. Songs of the Beautiful
  58. Stand Like the Brave
  59. Strike the Harp of Zion
  60. Sunday School Volunteer Song
  61. Sutherland
  62. Svalbard
  63. Sweet Hour
  64. Sweetly Sing, Sweetly Sing
  65. Sweetest Name
  66. Watchman, Tell Me
  67. Water of Life, The
  68. Wave
  69. We Are Going
  70. What Shall I Do to Be Saved?
  71. Whither, Pilgrims, Are You Going?
  72. Wirth
  73. Woodworth
  74. Yarbrough
  75. Yokohama
  76. Your Saviour Wept
  77. Zephyr