The Union Jack
The Union Jack – The Annual Report for 1892-93 recorded: The Christmas Gift-Book for the year was the spirited address on The Union Jack, by the Rev. Professor Marcus Dods, D.D., which was very warmly appreciated, and of which over 20,000 copies were issued. Following the good example set by Professor Drummond in the previous year, the Committee offered prizes to the Boys of the Brigade for the best answer to the question:- “Whom do you consider the bravest man mentioned in the Bible (Jesus Christ excepted)? State your reasons for thinking so.”
The interest shown in this Competition was so great that no fewer than 628 papers were sent in by Brigade Boys from all parts of the Kingdom, and even from the Dominion of Canada. Writing of these papers, one of the Examiners said :- “It is delightful to see in so many of the papers such fresh and natural appreciation of what true bravery is, and what it springs from, and in what men or tempers it shows itself moral courage receives due honour; and the bravery of ‘ humility, self-sacrifice, prayer, confession, and repentance are all well described, and in a boy like, natural way. The best papers, for the most part, decided on Paul, and contrasted him. especially with David.”
Another of the Examiners is much struck with the fact that the papers show “a widespread attachment to the Brigade and its Officers, which is all the more valuable as the expression of it is wholly uncalled for and evidently spontaneous.” Many of the papers bear evidence that the teaching of the Brigade is finding its way to the hearts of the Boys, and yielding fruit in their lives, as, for instance, in the case of the Boy who closes his paper as follows :- “Although only a private in the —- Company, I have resolved to live a life here below which will be a recommendation to a higher rank when my Heavenly Father calls upon me to join that great and glorious army in that Sunny Land above.”
The result of the Competition was announced in No.1 of The Boys’ Brigade Magazine, which was published in the month of May, and of which over 8,000 copies were issued.
Christmas books – The late Victorian period was a time of rapidly increasing literacy, with The Boys’ Brigade playing its part in this progress with the publication in 1889 of a Christmas Gift book for Boys. The primary purpose of this book was to encourage Boys to read, and the first publication featured 16 pages of text interspersed with illustrations. This set a pattern for future books which continued until 1899. These books proved very successful, and reached a good proportion of Boys in the Brigade. Few of these books now exist, and it is fortunate that enough copies remain to be reproduced and read on the BB virtual museum as a flip book below.