1852, Waterford, Ireland.
January 29, 1918, Epsom, Surrey, England.
Caldbeck attended the National Model School, Waterford, and Islington Theological College. His hopes of becoming a missionary were frustrated by poor health, and he instead became a schoolmaster and evangelist in Ireland. In 1888, he moved to London as an independent itinerant preacher. He also did missionary work in China for some time.
Though Caldbeck is often shown as the sole composer of the tune Pax Tecum, the following is of interest:
A correspondent in our last issue asks for some information respecting Mr. J. T. Caldbeck [sic], whose name appears as the composer of the tunePax Tecum,to the popular hymn Peace, Perfect Peace by the Rev. Dr. E. H. Bickersteth, formerly Lord Bishop of Exeter.
This tune first appeared in the 1877 edition of theHymnal Companion to the Book of Common Prayer,edited by the late Mr. J. T. Cooper. Dr. Charles Vincent, one of the editors of the new edition of the Hymnal Companion gives the following particulars respecting Mr. Caldbeck and the tune in question:
My connection with the tune is as follows—in 1876 Mr. Bickersteth sent me a manuscript piece of music written by Mr. Caldbeck to the hymn in question with the request that I would put it into shape. I understood that Mr. Caldbeck was a missionary in China who was in the habit of singing the hymn to some music of his own, but not being an educated musician, was unable to write his melody in ordinary notation, his manuscript therefore was more like a chant drawn out with strokes and hieroglyphical signs than a piece of music! All I could make out of it was the note he commenced on was continued for several words, and if my memory is correct, he had set the words of the various verses to different music.
I did the best I could with it under the somewhat unusual circumstances, and the result is the tune now so universally known. In the Preface to the Hymnal Companion, the harmonization and arrangement of this tune are credited to me. No doubt had I been older and more experienced, I should have claimed the authorship, and my name and not Caldbeck’s would have appeared at the head of the tune.
The Organist and Choirmaster, January 15, 1903, p. 212