1852–1918

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 tune Pax 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 the Hym­nal 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

  1. Pax Te­cum