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Alexander MacMillan

Short Name: Alexander MacMillan
Full Name: MacMillan, Alexander, 1864-1961
Birth Year: 1864
Death Year: 1961

MacMillan, Alexander. (Edinburgh, October 19, 1864--March 5, 1961, Toronto, Ontario). Presbyterian/United Church. Graduated from Edinburgh University, 1887; Presbyterian College (Montreal), D.D., 1919. Pastorates at Auburn, Ont., 1887-1891; Mimico, 1892-1895, 1908-1914; Toronto, 1895-1905. While claiming authorship of no hymns himself, he shaped the taste of three generations of Canadian Protestants, who sang in church for 40 years what he had decided they should. After appointment to the Presbyterian Committee on Church Worship (1893) he proceeded to torpedo a projected uniform hymnbook for all Presbyterians in the British Empire, and to become editor (in all but name) of The Presbyterian Book of Praise (1907), The Book of Praise (1918), and the United Church Hymnary (1930). Of these, the second was used until 1972 by Presbyterians who, unlike MacMillan, stayed out of the church union of 1925; while the third was adopted in 1936 by Canada's Baptists, who substituted a few hymns to meet their special needs. Meanwhile he co-edited the University of Toronto Hymn Book (1912) and a Ukrainian Book of Praise (1922), intended to provide Ukrainian settlers on the prairies with access to Protestant hymns--which, as it turned out, they did not covet. From 1914 to 1933, he regularly visited theological colleges across Canada, discussing hymns and hymn-singing with the students. For his later work he had the help of his son Ernest, the finest Canadian-born musician thus far, whose gifts, like his own, were organizational, expository, and inspirational rather than creative.

--Hugh D. McKellar, DNAH Archives

Note: The DNAH Archives also has a copy of:

Keith and Pat MacMillan (Eds.). (1987-1988). Looking back: reminiscences of the Rev. Alexander MacMillan, D.D., Mus. D., 1864-1961, written between 1940-1945.


Hymnals by Alexander MacMillan (1)sort descendingAsPublication Year
The University Hymn BookAlexander MacMillan (Editor)1912
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