Personal Songbook of Sidney Cox

This songbook was found in the personal effects of Sidney Cox (1887 – 1975) following his death.   It contains a fascinating handwritten compendium of his musical compositions, generally written while he was a Salvation Army officer (1910 – 1944).

I am speculating on this to some degree, but I believe this book was originally a composition book of sorts, with blank musical staffs pre-printed at the top.  The composer could write the musical score at the top, with lyrics written at the bottom.  It is my belief that Sidney Cox came into possession of this book in the late 1920s, and then continually built it as his compositions continued to unfold.

These songs are generally listed in the chronological order in which he wrote them. Songs #1-14 were written during his career as a Salvation Army officer in Canada 1910 – 1922.  In addition, “Never A Friend Like Jesus”, the lyrics of which appear on page #58 was written in Canada.

Following a five-year stint during which he was associated with the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, he rejoined The Salvation Army in Atlanta upon the founding of their Southern Territory in 1927.  I am not aware that he composed any songs while with Moody; however, upon rejoining The Salvation Army in Atlanta, he resumed his composing career with vigor.  Songs #15 – 50 were composed in Atlanta during the years 1927 – 1930.  For songs #27 – 44, he had written “1929” at the top of the page.  For songs #45 – 50, he had written “1930” at the top of the page.

Sidney Cox submitted many of his manuscripts to The Salvation Army in London.  The officers of the music department in London reviewed the manuscripts of many Salvationist composers from around the world.  The best manuscripts were included in their monthly publication, The Musical Salvationist.  This publication was then distributed to Salvationist around the world, and was a mechanism of informing Salvationist musicians about these new compositions for use in their ministries.  During the course of his lifetime, over 70 of his compositions were published in The Musical Salvationist.  In this personal songbook, he would make notations such as “MS Vol XXIX.”  This was his reference to the particular volume of The Musical Salvationist in which his composition appeared.

Following Song #50, the back of the book contains various notes in his handwriting and in the handwriting of his wife, Violet Henderson Cox.  Some of these notes appear to be the original drafts of lyrics to new songs.  Some of these songs were subsequently published.  Some may have never gone farther than these extemporaneous notes.

Taken as a whole, this book is a precious artifact for our family and for the Salvation Army world.  It is a remarkable testimony to the diligence applied by Sidney Cox during his composing career, and the significance that his compositions represented to him personally. As of 2008, this songbook is among the possessions of my nephew, Wayne Henry Friedman, himself a wonderful musician, composer and arranger.

John Douglas Cox, A Grandson. April 17, 2008

SEC Personal Songbook (.pdf file)

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