Searching for the Truth in the King James Bible;
Finding it, and passing it on to you.

Steve Van Nattan




THE HOLY CITY-- A Deadly Song

The life and personal life of hymn writers must be considered
before we sing hymns they wrote.

Hymn Writer-- Mr. Michael Maybrick



"The late Mr. Maybrick was a prominent Freemason, having been Grand Organist of Grand Lodge in 1889."

Read the story of the man's life.
It is a very profane life indeed.

We have this week, with the profoundest regret to record the death of Mr. Michael Maybrick, J.P., of Lynthorpe, Ryde. The sad event took place at Buxton, whither the deceased gentleman went to recruit his health about three weeks ago. He had shown signs of failing health lately, but no one anticipated so sudden a termination to his useful and valued life


He retired to rest on Monday night after having been chatting and joking with friends, apparently in his usual health, but at 10 o'clock on Tuesday morning he was found dead in bed, death having taken place in his sleep.

Mrs. Maybrick, who was in Ryde, left by the 2 o'clock boat, and the body was brought to Ryde at 11 p.m. on Wednesday by special boat for internment this (Saturday) afternoon. The first part of the Burial Service will be at All Saints' Church, at 3 p.m. The Vicar (the Rev. Hugh Le Fleming) will officiate. The Mayor and Corporation, the Freemasons, and other public bodies will attend. Mr Douglas B. Hall, M.P., has wired that absence on a lengthy yachting cruise will prevent his being present. The funeral arrangements are in charge of Mr C. Langdon.

When the news flashed along the wires that Michael Maybrick, or 'Stephen Adams' as he was better known to many, was no more, a painful sense of personal loss was created such as the death of few men could arouse. Who in the British Isles has not heard with irresistible appeal the attractive music of his many songs, all pure and enabling, some grand and devotionally inspiring in the sublimity of their religious feeling. This sense of loss was felt even by those who had never come within the sphere of his magnetic and charming personality. How much more poignant must be the grief of we in the Wight, who have been privileged for the last two decades to know and regard with unstinted admiration his kind, chivalrous, and noble self, as one writer truthfully hits off his magnificent characteristics in telling and happy phrase. To the people of Ryde the loss will be irreparable, and to very many of them life cannot be exactly the same again since so true a friend, so strikingly endowed and so unique a man has gone where beyond these voices there is peace.

Mr. Maybrick's appointment to the Mayoralty of Ryde in 1900 came as a great surprise upon the majority of people in the borough, but it was a brilliant success from every point of view, and that success was rounded off and made in every way complete by the womanly tact, winning grace and charm of Mrs. Maybrick's ever watchful and clever help. The lustre of this brilliancy was never dimmed, but rather increased. Few who were present will ever forget the then Mayor of Ryde's reading of the proclamation of King Edward VII., his addresses to the school children, or his kindly interest in the poor of the town. Mr Maybrick had the distinction of being Mayor of Ryde in the Coronation years of Edward VII, and of George V., and he represented the town in Westminster Abbey at those Coronations. Ryde's musical renown in these later years owes much to its five times Mayor for his promotion and support, most ably and enthusiastically assisted by his friend Mr. John I. Barton, of the winter and summer concerts given by the R.M.A. Band.

Mr. Maybrick was a patriot to the fingertips. As President of the I.W. Conservative Association he worked most strenuously and never spared himself, and it is no exaggeration to say that the splendid victory of Mr. Douglas B. Hall, M.P., as Member for the Isle of Wight, was in no small degree due to his exertions. He was a most effective speaker. His fine presence, resonant and musical voice used with consummate skill, and his winning smile were great helps, but his strength as an orator was as the strength of ten because it was that of a man sincere to the core. He was no frothy emotionalist, no opportunist at the head of a party machine; he was out to advocate principles, which he believed vital, and which were ingrained in his very nature.

His excellence as a speaker was made all the greater by his possession of the saving grace of humour. Few could make a more acceptable after-dinner speech than he. All the sunshine of his nature, all his evident joy of life, all the affectionate interest in his fellows which characterised Michael Maybrick were poured forth in rich abundance, and he played on his audiences as he played the piano or organ, with the hand of a master. Mr. Michael Maybrick achieved remarkable success in many and diverse ways, but he was never spoiled thereby. To the very last he was a perfect example of one of nature's gentlemen, a true friend, wise, generous, and helpful to rich and poor alike, without distinction of rank, creed or politics. He imparted some of the brightness of his own sunny nature to every one with whom he had to do or into whose society he was introduced.

The late Mr. Maybrick was for many years a member of the directorate of the County Press, took a lively interest in its welfare, and brought to bear on the promotion of that welfare the great business aptitude with which he was endowed. This journal and its staff have thus lost three invaluable directors and friends in the short space of nine months.

The profound and respectful sympathy of the whole community is with Mrs. Maybrick today. They try, though they must fail, to measure her loss by theirs; they try because they sincerely wish to sympathise with her to a degree proportionate to the loss which they themselves feel, and to the debt of gratitude they owe to her for all she has done for him and them.


The world has lost one of its most popular song composers by the death of 'Stephen Adams'. The deceased gentleman was born at Liverpool in 1844. In his early childhood he developed a passion for music. He could play the piano with brilliance and accuracy when he was 8 years old. At 14 he was appointed organist at St. Peters, Liverpool, and when he was only 15 he distinguished himself as a composer of anthems. At 22 he went abroad to study harmony and composition at Leipzig, under Moscheles, Plaidy, and Richter, and he did so with so much success as to receive an excellent testimonial from Plaidy.

In Leipzig, however, it was discovered that he possessed a voice of superior quality, and as a consequence he sacrificed his contrapuntal studies in order to devote himself to vocal cultivation. For some time he studied at Milan under Nava, and in 1870 he appeared at the new philharmonic concert with such decided success that he joined the late Mme. Sainton-Dolby in her farewell tour. His rendering of the part of Telramund in Wagner's 'Lohengrin', won for him a leading place in English opera. In 1871 he joined Mr. Sims Reeves in an operatic tour, and his popularity grew so rapidly that he soon found it profitable to exchange the operatic stage for the concert room. He appeared in public with some of our best vocalists, having become a most popular baritone singer. 'Stephen Adams' was still more successful as a composer of songs.

Thirty years ago he was probably the most popular composer of the day. His first song was 'A Warrior Bold', which remains one of the most popular of its class. He wrote it while lying ill in bed, and accepted 5s for it plus a royalty. This royalty amounted to well over a thousand pounds within a few years. 'A Warrior Bold', however, was not an instant success. Mr Maybrick leaped into prominence in 1878 when he sang 'Nancy Lee', and within 18 months 70,000 copies of it had been sold. He offered 'Nancy Lee' to Mr. Arthur Boosey for 20 guineas, but this was refused.

After hearing him sing it at the St. James's Hall, however, Mr Boosey offered 100 guineas for the song. This time Mr Maybrick refused, and the song that Messrs. Boosey might have obtained for £21 ultimately cost them several thousands in royalties. His next success was 'the Midshipmite', which he sang at the St. James's Hall concerts. The words of this and many other favourites were by Mr. Frederick E. Weatherly. Other songs which rapidly caught the popular fancy were 'The Tar's Farewell', 'The Little Hero', 'The Valley by the Sea', 'Children of the City', 'They All Love Jack', 'The Blue Alsatian Mountains', 'Nirvana', 'Your Dear Brown Eyes', 'Thora', 'Mona' and 'The Veteran's Song'.

Two of his sacred songs which have become world famous are 'The Star of Bethlehem' and 'The Holy City'. The latter had the distinction of being translated into German. In recent years Mr. Maybrick's compositions have included 'Babylon', 'Farewell in the Desert' and 'Love Eternal'. Out of the profits of his ballads Mr. Maybrick founded a Ballad Singing Prize at the Royal Academy of Music. In the songs of 'Stephen Adams' there is a simplicity that one rarely finds in the modern 'ballad'.

'The Star of Bethlehem' may be said to represent the climax of his work, simple in idea, and very direct - ingenuous, even - in utterance. This was an immensely popular song, and, indeed, is still very popular in the more outlying parts of these kingdoms. The public taste today seems to lie in the direction of something more artificial, something less sincere. But it is unlikely that the composer's name will be forgotten for many years; his sentiments were too human, his feelings too sensitive.

In considering the world-wide delight which 'Stephen Adams' gave by his inspired music, one cannot but be struck by the absence of any recognition of his work on the part of the Government of the country, especially when one recalls the recent rather lavish distribution of honours in many cases to merely local party politicians, which are fresh in the minds of Islanders. Such recognition would have gratified the lovers of our departed friend's rousing ballad music and done honour to the land which gave him birth.

The Daily Chronicle says: 'He himself recognised that he belonged to that section of composers who bid for popularity in their own life-time, and although his own ballads were brilliant when gauged by the standard of Tosti and Piccolomini, he was a great admirer of the newer 'Landon Ronald' style of song, which is fast usurping their place in concerts. . . . He was at one time captain in the Artists' Volunteer Corps. These activities were in keeping with his vigorous personality. For he was a tall, well-proportioned man, brisk in his movements, pleasant and sympathetic in conversation, and always cheerful in his views. But, of course, he will be best remembered for the haunting cadences and the emotional fervour of 'The Holy City' and 'The Star of Bethlehem'.'

Mr F. E. Weatherly, who composed the words of 'Nancy Lee', 'The Midshipmite', 'The Star of Bethlehem', 'The Holy City', and other songs for 'Stephen Adams' to set to music was formerly a law coach at Oxford. He still writes songs and has a large practice as a barrister on the Western Circuit.

It was at a small theatre in Milan that Mr. Maybrick made his first appearance as a vocalist.

Mr. Maybrick's excellencies as a vocalist, in addition to his magnificent voice, were his admirable enunciation and direct and incisive style.

Concerning the popularity of Mr. Maybrick's 'Nancy Lee', a story is told of a musician who, proceeding to New York, was much annoyed by an invisible fellow passenger who whistled 'Nancy Lee' incessantly. The next morning revealed the fact that the whistler was 'Stephen Adams' himself. Mr. Maybrick continued to produce songs for a period of over 37 years. Latterly a change of style was to be noted, and what now proves to be his last published song, which was issued this month by Messrs. Boosey and Co., is said to be entirely unlike anything else he has written. It is entitled 'The Bells of Lee', and the words telling of parted lovers are by Mr. F. E. Weatherly.

Mr. Weatherly reckoned on making �500 a year by his art of preparing the sentimental or rollicking words for the musical framework of Stephen Adams's and other writers' songs. It is doubtful whether any writer of songs has ever surpassed his financial success.



Speaking at the Mayoral banquet at Ryde in 1911, when relinquishing the duties of Mayor, Mr. Maybrick said the Mayor had referred to him as Stephen Adams, and they saw how a man could play two parts - one day he was Michael Maybrick and the next Stephen Adams. His great gratification was, and always would be, whilst he had the breath of life, that he had given pleasure to thousands of people. When he wrote his first song, 'A Warrior Bold', he was living in chambers. He had a bad cold and was unable to sing at Wolverhampton, where he had an engagement. While in bed he wrote the words and music of that song and took it to Mr. Arthur Chappell, of Chappell and Co. When the latter wanted to know what it was like he sang it to him. He said he would take five guineas for it, but Mr. Chappell said 'What! For an unknown composer?'

It ended in his selling his first song for 5s. But there was a royalty attached, and that had gone a long way beyond four figures. Some time after he wrote 'Nancy Lee', he thought in 1878. That was also written when he was in bed, with a bad cold. He took that to his dear old friend Mr. Arthur Boosey, who kept him on tenterhooks for about six months. He said he would take 20 guineas for the song. After a few months he got Mr. Boosey to put it down for a public concert. He sang it at St. James's hall and it was a great success. The next morning Mr. Boosey said 'I will take that song'. He said, 'Of course you will'. Mr. Boosey said, 'I think the price was 20 guineas?'. He said 'Yes, it was 20 guineas yesterday morning'. Mr Boosey offered him 100 guineas, but eventually it was published under a royalty, and what Mr. Boosey refused for 20 guineas had cost his firm several thousands since. One of the reasons why he wished not to go on as Mayor of Ryde was that he wanted to get back to his natural work - to write for his publishers, whom he had neglected too long.


Ryde will be in the deepest and most sincere mourning for the loss of one of the most courtly and accomplished gentlemen who have ever honoured it by taking up his residence in its midst. It is no mere figure of speech to say that every one who knew Mr. Maybrick is well nigh heartbroken at his sudden passing from us. Mr. Maybrick had ever a kindly work for everyone and although he had strong political convictions, he was a shining example of a man of such innate winsomeness that he was liked and respected as greatly by members of the opposing camp as by those of his own way of thinking.

Mr. Maybrick was first elected Mayor of the borough in November 1900 and his splendid management of the affairs of the borough was so pronounced and so much appreciated by the Corporation and the burgesses, that he was unanimously entreated to take the position again in the following year, and readily consented to do so. Those years were memorable, both nationally and locally. The period witnessed many important improvements in the borough, notably the completion and opening of the new Western Esplanade, and Mr. Maybrick's civic reign added lustre to the municipal annals of the town. Mr. Maybrick made an ideal Mayor in a double capacity. As a vocalist of the highest rank, he was known all over the world, and as Stephen Adams he composed many of the most delightful and most popular songs that have ever been written. Ryde was never so well catered for in a musical direction as when he filled the civic chair. The deceased gentleman was a tactful, highly efficient, and most businesslike administrator of local affairs. Mr. Maybrick proved that he possessed many and varied powers, all of a very high order. He not only knew the things, which ought to be done for the town, but he had the power to introduce them and carry then through in the best possible way and at the psychological moment.

In 1908 Mr. Maybrick again consented to take up the Mayoral reins of office, and in proposing his election at the annual meeting of the Council, Ald. Groves, in a happy speech, said the inhabitants had the liveliest recollection of two years of office in which Mr. Maybrick, assisted by his estimable wife, carried out the duties so well. They were very fortunate as a Council, and the inhabitants were also fortunate, that a gentleman of the position of Mr. Maybrick, with such great ability and knowledge of public affairs, a man of charming manners, a gentleman who by his great talent and perseverance had won for himself a world-wide fame in the world of music, and one so full of public engagements, was willing to come forward and take the honourable and at the same time arduous, duties of the Mayoralty in his desire to serve the interests of Ryde.

Mr. Blackall, in seconding the proposition, mentioned an incident, which came to his knowledge in 1900. His wife received a letter from her brother in Chicago, in which he said that one morning he was strolling down a leading thoroughfare when he saw a huge crowd outside a music saloon. He went to see what was engaging their attention and found to his delight that the entire window was filled with the compositions of the of their famous composer, with the legend underneath his portrait, 'Mayor of the town of Ryde, Isle of Wight, England'.

In accepting the office, Mr. Maybrick made a characteristically modest speech, in which he said that he very greatly esteemed the honour that had bee paid him. He considered, that no greater honour could be paid to a townsman than for him to be elected Chief Magistrate, and therefore he did appreciate the honour conferred upon him, and he hoped that they would all work in a friendly manner together and that the end of his year of office would see them all the best of friends. No words could have been more prophetic, as the end of each of Mr. Maybrick's terms of office saw him not only on as good terms with the Council and the burgesses as when he started, but with their respect and affection for him even greater than at the beginning.

In 1908 the musical correspondent of a London contemporary wrote: 'In the 'Good old days' of long ago singers took no interest and knew little about things beyond their art'. Proceeding to remark that things had altered very much for the better, he instanced the case of Mr. Michael Maybrick. 'Years ago he achieved distinction as a vocalist; as the composer of charming songs he has made Stephen Adams a name of fame wherever English ballads are sung; and he is now winning fresh honours in another sphere, having for the third time been selected as Mayor of the borough which has the good fortune to number him amongst its citizens'.

In 1909 the burgesses were delighted to learn that Mr. Maybrick had consented to serve as Mayor for yet another year. He had filled the office with conspicuous ability and success, touching no public duty which he did not adorn, and the town was fortunate in having such a gentleman able and willing to act as its municipal and social head.

In 1910 universal satisfaction was expressed when it was known that Mr. Maybrick had yet once again consented to resume office, this making his fifth year as Mayor, and the third in succession, and, alas, his last period of office. During this year the proceedings in connection with the Coronation of King George were carried out by the Mayor with a distinction and success which were unexcelled by those in many a larger town.

In 1911 Mr. Maybrick at last found himself reluctantly compelled to lay down the burden of office. He had shown a brilliant example of the way in which the duties of Chief Magistrate should be performed, and in the whole annals of the town there had been no more popular or better-loved Mayor. In retiring into private life, Mr. Maybrick carried with him the sincere esteem, respect, and affectionate admiration of all those with whom he had been connected. To steer the municipal barque through often stormy and troubled waters for three years without an unkind word is an achievement of which any man might well be proud. During the whole of his service as mayor Mr. Maybrick received the greatest assistance from the Mayoress, whose kindness of heart, coupled with a complete charm of manner and unweariedness in well-doing endeared her to all the inhabitants of the town.



In March 1912, Mr. Maybrick, who had been for some years the vice-chairman of the Royal I.W. County Hospital, was elected chairman, on the death of the Rev. W. H. E. Welby. Mr. Maybrick had long shown and enthusiastic interest in that institution, and rendered especially conspicuous service as chairman of the Building committee, who directed the many and great improvements which at that period had just been effected in the Institution. His business ability, intensely sympathetic nature, and excellences of mind and heart marked him out as very specially qualified for the post. Mr. Maybrick was unfortunately not destined to hold the position of chairman of the Institution very long, but his energies in furthering the splendid work done by the Hospital will long be remembered with grateful hearts by all those concerned in the amelioration of sickness and suffering in the Island.



Among the many prominent features connected with the Mayoralty of Mr. Maybrick, some of the most pleasing are to be found in the children's parties given by the then Mayor and Mayoress at the Town hall. On those occasions the wholehearted delight with which Mr. and Mrs. Maybrick entered into the entertainment of their young friends will ever remain a delightful memory.

Mr. Maybrick took a special interest in the doings of the Primitive Methodist Church in High Street of which he laid the foundation stone, and his services were always readily and genially given when any special function was held in connection with the church.

Mr. Maybrick showed his great interest in the musical affairs of the town by acting for some years as president of the Ryde Philharmonic Society, and it was due to his untiring interest in the Society and his munificent support that the Society has been able to give so many splendidly successful performances.

Mr. Maybrick's interest in sport was very great, and the Ryde Cricket Club have lost in him a popular president and a generous supporter. He was not only a figurehead, but often attended the matches and cheered the players on to victory. Mr. Maybrick was for several years president of the Ryde Football and Bowling Clubs, and in both of these games he took much interest. He was very much interested in lawn tennis, and was a valued supporter of the Ryde Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

His interest in the cause of charity was intense and when the Ryde charity dances were started Mr. Maybrick gave a handsome prize and attended personally to present it.

A correspondent recalls the delight with which he often listened to the late Mr. Maybrick and the late Mr Dudley Watkins, another most accomplished vocalist and musician, who often dined together and afterwards played and sang together from sheer love of music.

The late Mr. Maybrick was a prominent Freemason, having been Grand Organist of Grand Lodge in 1889.

Amongst the other various offices held by the deceased gentleman were those of vice president of the Trinity College, London, and vice president of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Help Society for the Isle of Wight, founded by H.R.H. Princess Christian.

Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- The account above is from ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY PRESS. Saturday August 30th 1913. This is the article published at the time of the death of Maybrick, and the article is in praise of him.



The Holy City

Text: Frederick E. Weatherly, 1892

Music: Stephen Adams alias Michael Maybrick, 1892

Last night I lay asleeping,
There came a dream so fair;
I stood in old Jerusalem
Beside the temple there.
I heard the children singing,
And ever as they sang,
Me thought the voice of angels
From heav'n in answer rang;
Me thought the voice of angels
From heav'n in answer rang. 

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Lift up your gates and sing,
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna to your King! 

And then methought my dream was chang'd,
The streets no longer rang,
Hush'd were the glad hosannas
The little children sang.
The sun grew dark with mystery,
The morn was cold and chill,
As the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill,
As the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Hark! how the angels sing,
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna to your King!

And once again the scene was chang'd,
New earth there seemed to be;
I saw the Holy City
Beside the tideless sea;
The light of God was on its streets,
The gates were open wide,
And all who would might enter,
And no one was denied.
No need of moon or stars by night,
Or sun to shine by day;
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away,
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Sing for the night is o'er,
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna forevermore!



Michael Maybrick alias Stephen Adams, 1880s photo



2: Poisoning an Arsenic Addict

The question of a Masonic meaning to this ballad was raised by the Australian composer and writer Derek Strahan in a fascinating internet piece on Michael Maybrick, his collaborator Frederick Weatherly and their possible gay and Masonic links. The name of Maybrick was associated with a poisoning during his lifetime when his American-born sister-in-law, Florence was convicted of murdering his brother James. The case is thrown in doubt by the fact that James was an arsenic and strychnine addict, taking the poisons as supposed sexual stimulants, though the court did not hear of this. Michael played a major part in the early accusation of Mrs Maybrick, placing her under virtual house-arrest while his brother lay dying. Today the case is regarded as a study in Victorian double-standards, Florence's extramarital affairs making her a convenient scapegoat, though her unfortunate decision to brew home-made cosmetics from arsenic fly-papers seems, if anything, even more puzzling today than it did at the time.

The poisoning was lurid enough but worse was to come. In 1992, a book was published which purported to be the secret diary of Jack the Ripper, pointing the finger at James Maybrick as author. This book, connecting the major shock-horror story of 1888, Jack-the-Ripper, with that of 1889, the Maybrick poisoning, seems to have been an elaborate hoax &endash; the two stories have often appeared in sequence in popular crime compilations. Derek Strahan's account is valuable for being fleshed out with some family reminiscences from his friend Amanda Pruden: Michael Maybrick was her Great Uncle. Michael and Fred Weatherly, both Freemasons were held by the family to be a couple, though both were married, Michael somewhat late in life.


3: Adam & Steve Milk the Royalty System

The Royalty Ballad system meant that publishers promoted their songs by paying singers a royalty to include them in concerts and naming them on the sheet music covers by way of a seal of approval. In a way the ballad concerts played the promotional rôle that records would later play, the aim being to sell the music to amateurs for home performance, a very substantial market. The system arose during the 1860s and the name Ballad Concert first appears in the 1870s. Boosey & Co. were probably the leading publishers in this line, though Chappell and Metzler were not far behind. Michael Maybrick arrived on the London scene in the mid 1870s, adopting the name Stephen Adams as a writer of material which was sung by himself and others, notably the tenor Edward Lloyd. The sheet music notes many songs as being by Adams and sung by Mr. Maybrick so it is not entirely clear how many were aware of the pseudonym. If this made-up name seems to trip off the tongue, could it be that the spelling disguises (St)Eve 'n Adam(s) at its core? There are of course some advantages to being listed at the top in advertisements of songs in alphabetical order. Or is the preacher's quip about Adam & Steve not quite so recent as we had thought?


4: A Rough Trade in Angels

Heterodox religion is rife in the Victorian semi-sacred song. The trade in lyrics was an industry, with the authors advertising their services in periodicals, boasting of their fecundity. The cloister-song with angelic singing children snatched away by angels for being too sweet is a standard form. This period marked the height of the Oxford Movement of Puginesque Churches, of William Morris Stained glass, of mourning jewelry. Though it is generally held that the Victorian Ballad had nothing but the name in common with earlier traditional poems, some points of contact are clear. The ballad would not entirely shake off its supernatural history and many of the songs are about some kind of epiphany, often giving a religious twist to a phrase already heard e.g. "safe in his Father's arms".

To establish any occult strands in the Weatherly-Adams songs we would really need to pit them against control specimens from other writers to see if they stick out of the pile. That would be a daunting task. Weatherly was massively prolific and claimed to have penned some 3,000 lyrics. As a copyright lawyer he was no doubt in a better position than most to defend his work against the pirates who made such inroads against the legitimate publishers until an effective Copyright Act in 1906. Derek Strahan estimates that Adams-Maybrick probably wrote about a hundred songs in all and, in collaboration with Derek, I have compiled a list of nearly 70 titles from the backs of old sheet-music. Yet it turned out that Derek was not, after all, the first writer to detect layers of arcane meaning in these old ballads. Before I name the man who got there first, however, I want to take a closer look at The Holy City to see if it is Christian, Masonic or both. Then to look at a possible source.


5: The Cross in the Margin

A first reaction to The Holy City is to feel it is more sentimental-Christian than Masonic. There is mention of the Cross and Hosannas to the King, even if Christ is not named. The children's choir is a mainstay of the ballad at this period. Here they are given the famous cry of the Crusader's on seeing the city: Jerusalem, Jerusalem!

On the other hand, the Cross is evoked in a manner which suggests that its mystery and shadow are dispelled by the shining and regenerated City. The Cross in the old pilgrim maps, is seen as outside the Temple Walls and here also it could be said to be marginalized. The light of God which denies no one is not any normal Christian Apocalypse which would involve a Last Judgment. The identification of God with light also fits with a tradition that, for the highest degree Masons, the Temple of Solomon is no more than a pun on three names for the Sun-God, Sol-Om-On.

Semi-religious ballads were not of course hymns and were not submitted for approval to the Church authorities. As expressions of popular feeling, it is unlikely they were scrutinized for heresy, though stern critics like Shaw viewed them as tasteless twaddle. In so far as they are religious, the religion normally tends towards the Catholic in its visions of the heavens opening to admit orphans who are too good to live.

This Jerusalem as Centre of the World is a potent image and a mysterious place in the mind. It appears at the end of Verdi's I Lombardi, where the distant city is viewed through the flap of the tent, as if a veil is torn. In that score, miraculous fountains spring up to accompany the vision. That opera was actually renamed Jerusalem when it was extended for the Paris Opera.

Read the rest of the story



Michael Maybrick's story lay dormant until 1992, when a diary purportedly kept by his brother, James Maybrick was discovered: in it, James Maybrick identifies himself as perpetrator of the arch-notorious Whitechapel murders of 1888 committed by Jack the Ripper. While has the diary been challenged as a forgery, the attention it gathered took James Maybrick's name to the top of the "Ripper" suspect list.

It also focused concentration on the role played by Michael Maybrick in helping send his brother's widow to serve an unjust 15-year prison sentence for James Maybrick's alleged murder by arsenic, an event vaguely alluded to in James Joyce's novel Ulysses. These unsavory elements do not serve the reputation of Michael Maybrick well, but they lend interest to his story, which was otherwise of no concern to musicologists.



This link shows again the wicked side of Maybrick.

Sample from the site:

"Finally, a mention for arguably the best-remembered ballad composer of all, Stephen Adams (1844-1913) whose real name was Michael Maybreak. A Liverpool-born baritone singer, he soon began composing songs of his own and The Star of Bethlehem, The Holy City, Thora and Nirvana among many other titles achieved enormous popularity. They can even be heard today. Songs need words, of course, and "Adams" established a profitable partnership with barrister Fred Weatherly (1848-1929) who wrote possibly 3000 song lyrics for many composers besides Adams, Eric Coates, Henry Trotter and Wilfrid Sanderson."

Although the journal which came to light in 1993, purporting to be written by James Maybrick during the period of the murders, is still regarded as suspect, it has not yet been conclusively proved to be a fraud, and one of Britain's foremost Ripperologists, writer Colin Wilson, now regards Maybrick as the most credible candidate. But our focus today is on the impact James Maybrick's misfortunes had on the life of his brother, Michael, a hugely successful composer of light music. I've mentioned that my interest in Michael Maybrick arose from my own close association with my friend Amanda, whose great-grand-uncle Edwin Maybrick was the youngest brother of James and Michael Maybrick. I've also mentioned the family mythology regarding Michael, that he had a long-term gay relationship with his librettist, Fred Weatherly, who was also a London barrister. Michael's sexual orientation is obliquely referred to by Shirley Harrison, author of the 1993 hit "The Diary of Jack the Ripper", in which she provides brief but valuable biographical insights to Michael's life, albeit revealing little sympathy for Michael himself. The narrative picks up in 1893, 3 years after the trial of Florence Maybrick, and suggests that it had become too difficult for Michael to maintain his social and musical life in London. According to Amanda's family mythology, by then Michael and Fred Weatherly had parted company.


The Story of Florence Maybrick
This includes the description of how Mickael Maybrick abused Florence.

Jack the Ripper Students consider Michael Maybrick was possibly Jack the Ripper

The Florence Maybrick Story-- Second version


CONCLUSION-- By Steve Van Nattan

From the above research material, which was greatly inspired by research done by Robert Aseltine, we see that "The Holy City" was nothing more than a very early version of Contemporary Christian Music. Satan has been hard at work slipping his works into the Lord's Church.

It is obviously an evil song and should not be performed by Bible believers. What else can we say? This song also shows how a tradition of singing songs can develop simply because they sound good or move the masses of listeners. Are you doing your homework on the music you sing and use in your fellowship?

Robert Aseltine, who contributes regularly to prod us to examine issues, was composing a medley for organ of several old respected hymns. The person asking him to arrange the medley suggested several hymns, including "The Holy City." Bob at first was pleased with the selection, but "The Holy City" made him uncomfortable, so he did some digging into the history of the song. That is where this article began-- In Robert's research. Again, are YOU doing you research?

2014 update:

Robert Aseltine went to be with the Lord in about 2003. He and I served as chaplains' assistants in the US Army at Fort Knox in the late 1960s, and Bob had a quiet intense faith and testimony then. He stayed on the narrow way until his death. I am told a man has about eight very close friends in his lifetime. Bob was one of mine, and he was the kind of friend who held himself and his friends to a high standard, not of works related rubbish, but to exalt Jesus Christ and review all of life with an open Bible. Look him up when we all get to heaven.