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Out of the Archive

The Original College Ballad 1856
25 Sep 2019
Cover of the Ballad
Cover of the Ballad
The original College Ballad was written around 1856 by W.H.Tinney, the Founder’s uncle. It was first published in 1858 and performed after every school concert or important occasion until the turn of the century. Every new boy in those days had to learn the Ballad off by heart and recite it to a Prefect – word perfect- within a fortnight of arriving.

The cover of the Ballad shows an unsigned engraving of Bradfield Church and the early College as it was just 8 years after founding. The eastern wing of Quad is clearly recognisable. On the back page, the song appears in English as it was originally written before Rev. Morley, a fellow of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, translated it into Latin. The Latin words are set to four-part harmony and for over a hundred years, these verses were illustrated by small stained-glass windows along the north wall of Hall, made to designs by the Founder’s wife.

G. Norman Knight, an OB who started at Bradfield at the turn of the century (1905-1910) wrote to the Headmaster in 1976 asking for a revival of the College Ballad and quoting a beautiful anecdote from OB H.A. Lomas (1891-1895):

   On a voyage home from India he got up to watch the sunrise. Another passenger had done so too. As they leant side by side on the ship’s rail as the sun came over the horizon, Lomas remarked, “Well, there’s old sol renascens.” Whereupon the other man said, “Orbe mox illuminabit.” Answering with the very next line from College Ballad. They spent the rest of the voyage swapping yarns about their school days in the saloon bar…

The current College organist, Mr Quinn has been given a copy of the ballad so that he might get to know it and perhaps revive this song once at the heart of College life.


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