1816–1868
illustration

October 6, 1816, York, Maine.

January 7, 1868, Mont­clair, New Jersey.

Bloom­field Cemetery, Bloom­field, New Jersey.

portrait
portrait

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. Jesus Paid It All
  2. Let the Gospel Trumpet Sound
  1. Aletta
  2. Andre
  3. Away
  4. Baca
  5. Balm
  6. Bartimeus
  7. Beautiful Mansions
  8. Bible, The
  9. Bradbury
  10. Bright and Glorious Kingdom, A
  11. Brown
  12. Caddo
  13. Çanakkale
  14. Carey
  15. Cayman
  16. Children’s Savior, The
  17. Claremont (arranger)
  18. Clarksville
  19. Come Again
  20. Córdoba
  21. Cry from Macedonia, A
  22. Don’t Forget the Sabbath
  23. Dulce Nomen
  24. Even Me
  25. Evergreen Shore, The
  26. Fulton
  27. Glorious Morning, The
  28. Glory to God in the Highest
  29. Grand Canyon
  30. Hagåtña
  31. Harvey’s Chant
  32. He Leadeth Me
  33. Heavenly Land, The
  34. House upon a Rock, The
  35. Howell
  36. I Think, When I Read That Sweet Story
  37. In a Manger Laid So Lowly
  38. Jazer
  39. Jesus Died for Me
  40. Jesus, Hear Me
  41. Jesus Loves Me
  42. Keokuk
  43. Kirkwood
  44. Köln
  45. La Mira
  46. Lamb That Was Slain, The
  47. Land of Pleasure
  48. Laurels, Fresh Laurels
  49. Lord of the Gospel Harvest
  50. Leaf
  51. Lottie
  52. Lulu
  53. Marching Along
  54. Marching On!
  55. Mason’s Chant
  56. Meroe
  57. Missionary
  58. Monora
  59. Montclair
  60. Morris’ Chant
  61. My Latest Sun Is Sinking Fast
  62. Never Be Afraid
  63. Oh Bliss of the Purified
  64. Olive’s Brow
  65. Redal
  66. Rest
  67. Rio Grande
  68. Rolland
  69. Round Rock
  70. Sabaoth
  71. Salome
  72. Scatter Smiles as You Go
  73. Shall We Sing in Heaven?
  74. Singing and Praising Forever
  75. Solid Rock
  76. Song of the Lilies
  77. Songs of the Beautiful
  78. Stand Like the Brave
  79. Strike the Harp of Zion
  80. Sunday School Volunteer Song
  81. Sutherland
  82. Svalbard
  83. Sweet Hour
  84. Sweetly Sing, Sweetly Sing
  85. Watchman, Tell Me
  86. Water of Life, The
  87. Wave
  88. We Are Going
  89. What Shall I Do to Be Saved?
  90. Whither, Pilgrims, Are You Going?
  91. Wirth
  92. Woodworth
  93. Yarbrough
  94. Yokohama
  95. Your Saviour Wept
  96. Zephyr