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Title: The Diamond Anthem

Date of first publication: 1898

Author: Barlow Cumberland (1846-1913)

Date first posted: May 23, 2015

Date last updated: May 23, 2015

Faded Page eBook #20150556

This ebook was produced by: Marcia Brooks, Cindy Beyer & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net



A Sketch


. . of how . .


“The Diamond Anthem”


was sung around the world

through the Colonies of the Empire

on the 20th June, 1897


The 60th Anniversary of the accession Day

of Her Majesty Queen Victoria


Being an extract from the Annual Report of

The Supreme Grand President of the Sons of England,

given at St. Catharines, Canada, 8th March, 1898.




The Robinson-Arbuthnot Press



An interval will be arranged in the regular afternoon service to allow of the National Anthem being commenced at 4 p.m., or in Australia and Canada at the exact Standard Time stated; this being the equivalent of the moment the sun is passing the place at 4 p.m. Sun Time.

Day Commences at Long. 180.Standard Time.Time at the Heart of the Empire—Windsor Castle
    St. Louis4.0012.10
    Durban (Port Natal)"1.56
    East London"2.08
    King William’s Town"2.11
    Graham’s Town"2.14
    Port Elizabeth"2.18
    Cape Town"2.46
    St. Helena"4.23
    Sierra Leone"4.53
    British Ships at sea........
    St. John"7.31
  Cape Breton
  Prince Edward Island
  Nova Scotia
    New Glasgow4.108.10
  New Brunswick
    St. John3.248.24
    Carleton Place4.049.04
    Smith’s Falls4.049.04
    Port Hope4.139.13
    Burke’s Falls4.159.15
    St. Catharines4.189.18
    Barrie and Allandale4.199.19
    Owen Sound4.249.24
    St. Thomas4.259.25
    Port Arthur3.579.57
    Fort William3.579.57
    Rat Portage4.1810.18
  Manitoba and Northwest
    Moose Jaw4.0211.02
    Medicine Hat4.2211.22
  British Columbia
    New Westminster4.1212.12
    British Ships at sea........


Diamond Jubilee Services Around

the World,

Sunday, 20th June, 1897.

Being an extract from the Annual Report of the Supreme Grand President

of the Sons of England, given at St. Catharines,

Canada, 8th March, 1898.

18. It has been my happy lot to be the President of the Sons of England during the record year of Her Majesty’s reign, an epoch year in the history of our British Empire, and it has given me the intensest pleasure to devote whatever power lay within me toward sustaining the loyal sentiments which have been evoked in so remarkable a degree.

The Foreign nations were amazed at the wondrous attachment with which the subjects of Queen Victoria, at home and all over the world, joined in rejoicing over her welfare, and in attesting their loyalty to her person and her Crown, but the Jubilee home-coming was a revelation also to the people of the Home Land, who found thus vividly brought before their eyes the marvellous area over which our fathers and we who had emigrated from her shores, have spread her power, and at last have seemed to “understand” how real is the blood union existing between the Sons who have gone out into the world, and the Brothers who have remained at home.

Summoned by the magic call of the Empress Queen, “Greater Britain” has suddenly stepped forward on the field as an actual and integral part of her Realm and Empire.

In accordance with the instructions of the Supreme Grand Lodge at Brantford, an address, most beautifully and appropriately illuminated, was forwarded to Her Majesty conveying our devotion, and stating the belief “that the personality of the Crown is the strongest and most stable bond of union between the millions of people who spread in a world-embracing circle around the old Home-Kingdom, delight in proving faithful allegiance, and doing loyal service.”

Our Society also joined heartily with all other societies in testifying together with them our united affection and loyalty upon the 22nd of June, the officially appointed Jubilee day.

It seemed to me, however, that the Sons of England owed it to their Queen, and earnestly desired to do something more, and I therefore organized the “Jubilee Service of a continuous anthem around the world,” to take place on Sunday, the 20th of June, the actual anniversary day of Her Majesty’s accession.

The idea when first mooted met with immediate acceptance as a happy conception, but many doubts were expressed as to the possibility of its being actually accomplished, for it seemed to the faint-hearted almost an impossibility to arrange for a connecting line of services, which should take place in succession around the whole circle of the earth for the space of twenty-four hours. Yet I have much pleasure in informing Supreme Grand Lodge that the “continuous Anthem and Prayer offered,” as stated in the Official Circular issued by me on the 8th April, “as the loyal and affectionate tribute of the Sons of England to their Gracious Queen upon the Diamond Jubilee of her accession to the Throne,” has been carried out in actual fact, and in completest detail.

It is not possible within the limits of this report to give more than a sketch, but some record is due of a “service” which was so universally and ardently adopted, which is absolutely unique in history, and which, moreover, is one capable of being carried out only by our nation, upon whose Sovereign’s dominions the sun never sets.

The intention was that commencing from the hour of 4.05 in the morning at Windsor Castle on the 20th of June, the Sons in the Colonies should join in a world-wide carol, and encircle their Queen with the continuous singing of the National Anthem all through the hours of that great day of her life, and on through the night until daylight the next morning.

On the opposite side of the world from the Heart of the Empire at Windsor Castle are the Fiji Islands, the colony situate nearest to longitude 180, where it is 4 o’clock in the afternoon at the same moment at which it is 4 o’clock in the morning of the same day in England at Greenwich.

The problem was therefore to have the National Anthem commenced in Fiji at the beginning of Her Majesty’s day, and sung thereafter precisely at 4 p.m., as the sun arrived at that moment in succession over each place in the Colonies, and passed onwards around the world.

A form of service was devised suitable for any Sunday afternoon service, to commence at 3.30, in which the National Anthem should be sung at the appointed moment of 4 o’clock.

Full descriptive circulars, forms of service, and a time-table of longitudes, prepared by the Meteorological Department of Canada, and showing the meridian or sun time at each place, were sent in multitude to friends and correspondents in every Colony and Dependency owning allegiance to the Union Jack.

With the co-operation of the Right Rev. The Bishop of Toronto, who is a member of our Order, communications were opened up with all the Colonial bishops and clergy, and their services were enlisted. Patriotic societies and the secretaries of the Royal Colonial Institute were asked by me to assist. Letters were sent to the captains of every British passenger ship which would be at sea on the 20th of June, asking them to sing the Anthem, fire a gun, and note the position of their ship at 4 p.m. on that day.

Our own brethren in Newfoundland and Canada and patriots in the United States took the service up with energy and enthusiasm. The Sons of England in South Africa answered with alacrity, Australia and New Zealand joined in heartily, and thus, by prompt and efficient action, the organization was completed and ready for the eventful day. Copies of the time-table were sent to Her Majesty, by reference to which it could be seen at any hour how far the Anthem had proceeded on its way and in what colony it was at any moment being sung.

In acknowledging receipt the Colonial Secretary, The Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, says to His Excellency Lord Aberdeen: “I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of the 24th April with its enclosures on the subject of the Continuous Service around the World which is being arranged by the Sons of England in commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Queen’s Accession to the Throne. I have to inform you that, in accordance with your request, the matter has been brought before the notice of the Queen, and that Her Majesty was graciously pleased to express her sincere appreciation of the loyal feelings that have prompted this interesting method of Commemoration.”

The 20th of June came and the Anthem passed around the world.

Reports and letters kept coming in month after month in reply to my request and giving an account of the proceedings held in each place. A few extracts only can be give here as samples of many hundreds of similar character which have been received from the continuous line now recorded around the world.

The service commenced on Sunday afternoon 20th June in Levuka, Fiji Islands. Dr. Garner Jones, headmaster of the Levuka Public Schools, writes: “Owing to geographical position—viz., 178.51 E. long.—the inhabitants of Levuka, Fiji Islands, enjoyed the unique honor of initiating “The Wave of Song” that hailed the Jubilee (Diamond) of Her Majesty’s Ascension, a wave which travelled from colony to colony in order of longitude, encircling the entire globe.”

“The service was an open air one, being held in the Government school grounds, Rev. W. Floyd, vicar of the Episcopal English Church officiating. The attendance was large and included representatives of various races who claim Her Majesty as their Sovereign. English, Scotch, Irish, Australian and New Zealand Colonials, Chinese, Germans, Swedes, among whom the characteristic bushy hair of the Fijian and other South Sea Islanders was prominent, there found themselves shoulder to shoulder in the antipodes of the British Empire earnestly rolling forth our grand old National Anthem, thus giving the keynote of thanksgiving to the entire world. The Masons and Odd Fellows appeared in regalia and the Levuka brass band was in attendance. Surrounding the main body of the assembly were the Levuka school boys, drawn up with their wooden rifles at the “Order.”

“Punctually at five minutes to 4 o’clock the procession of choristers left their temporary vestry and slowly approached their stand. At 4 o’clock precisely, meridian time, the British Ensign was hoisted, which was the pre-arranged signal, the band immediately struck up and every throat commenced ‘God Save the Queen’ while the public school guard stood at the ‘Present.’

“Undoubtedly the occasion was unique, and Levuka never forgot for a moment that her geographical position was unique also, in so far as she enjoyed the proud distinction of being allowed to start the wave of song which in its course would pass over in rotation all the British possessions on the face of the globe.”

At that same time, and while Her Majesty slept at 4.05 a.m. at Windsor, the Executive of the Sons of England and Lodge Commercial were in meeting at Shaftesbury Hall, Toronto. Precisely at 10.55 p.m., on Saturday 19th, they sang the National Anthem, commenced that same moment on Sunday afternoon in Levuka, and which for the next 17¼ hours was to be coming steadily nearer with the sun until it was over Toronto at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, when the Sons of England in Toronto again joined in the loyal strain as it pushed by them onwards toward the West.

Three minutes after Levuka had commenced, Suva, the Fiji capital, took up the strain. Mr. Hamilton Hunter says: “I am glad to report that the Special Jubilee Service was a great success in this Colony. It was not merely confined to the English Church but was heartily taken up by the Roman Catholics, Presbyterian and Wesleyan Churches. The National Anthem was sung on the stroke of four. I have to thank you for having enabled us to set ‘The Wave of Song’ in motion by your timely warning, and I can assure you that though our numbers are small and consequently the volume of sound was less than in larger colonies, yet the loyalty shown in Fiji to Her Most Gracious Majesty on the 60th anniversary of her reign, could not have been exceeded in any other part of the Empire.”

Nineteen minutes later, or before the services in the Fijis had closed, the Anthem was taken up, in Napier, New Zealand. The report says, “The Jubilee services at the cathedral yesterday will be remembered by the Napier people for many a long year, and it is questionable whether a more imposing ecclesiastical spectacle was ever witnessed in New Zealand. The cathedral was crowded to excess, all the friendly societies of Napier being present.” The Dean writes: “As Dean of the easternmost Cathedral in the British Empire, the cathedral upon which the rays of the rising sun first fall, I have to report that, in accordance with your wishes, we commenced the great circle of Anthem singing, as arranged for by the Sons of England, at 4 o’clock on the afternoon of Sunday last. The service was a very magnificent and enthusiastic one. I convey my most hearty good wishes to you, and to the members of the great organization you represent.”

The wave swept across Australia. At Melbourne, Victoria, B. Cowderoy, Esq., Secretary R.C.I., reports: “Both cathedrals (Anglican and Roman Catholic) were crushingly full. In the Exhibition building several thousands, after addresses by leading Wesleyans, took up the National Anthem at our standard time. In the town hall the Anthem was sung with fervor at 4 p.m. by 4,000 voices with most impressive effect. I am an octogenarian, but in this matter I am as young as my eight grandsons, and thank you, Mr. Cumberland, for your happy suggestion which has given added interest to all that is being done.” Adelaide, S. Australia: “The Bishops of the Diocese entered heartily into the scheme. The Governor and his staff were present. The National Anthem was sung with intense fervor and most thrilling effect.” So it passed through the other cities and over the continent of Australia.

Across the Indian Ocean. Empress of India marked the lat. 26.6. n.; long. 120. 26. e. “Rockets fired and National Anthem sung at 4 p.m. off Alligator Rock.” It first touched Africa and was hailed by the lodge of the Sons of England at Durban, Natal, and then, in continuing line across South Africa, in all the principal cities and Cape Town, the record was maintained.

On the Atlantic Ocean it was taken up on many British ships at sea, among whom a few only may be mentioned. R.M.S. Tantallon Castle, lat. 7. 17. n.; long. 14. 33. w., off west coast of Africa: “Guns fired and Anthem sung at 4 p.m. S.S. Greek, lat. 18. 10. n.; long. 17. 38. w.: “Fired rocket and sang National Anthem.” S.S. Numidian: “God Save the Queen sung precisely at 4 p.m.;” ship’s position, lat. 54. 42.; long. 20. 43. w. S.S. Catalonia: “At 4 p.m. I had two explosive gun signals fired on my ship in lat. 50. 12. n.; long. 22. 6. w. It was blowing a south-west gale with high seas, and it was a great disappointment to me that we could not hold the service I had intended, but all classes of passengers were so sea-sick.”

By the equivalent time of 7.31 p.m. at Windsor Castle the Anthem had crossed the Atlantic, and first touched the shores at St. John’s, Newfoundland, when it was met by Lodge Dudley, S.O.E., assembled, together with the Governor-General and all the friendly societies in the Cathedral. “The service was impressive in the extreme.” From here westward through Canada I need not dilate how that as the sun crossed the continent the line through the villages, towns and cities of Canada was so complete that the singing of the Anthem in one place had not ceased before it was taken up in the next. As says the report from Orillia, “as the familiar words were sung with lusty fervor by nearly a thousand voices, until the volume almost raised the roof, the sun passed the hour of four. In imagination the congregation could hear the strains as they rolled up from the east and died away into the west.” At Toronto, 3,000 people were packed into the Cathedral. After completion of the prayers there remained four minutes before it was our turn to take our place in the circle of song. By direction of His Lordship, the Bishop, the congregation knelt in silent prayer for Her Majesty and the welfare of the Empire. An immense throng of 6,000 to 7,000 people filled the grounds and the adjacent streets outside, and a Regimental Band had been stationed on the Cathedral steps to lead their singing. At the stroke of the Cathedral bell, which had been arranged to ring at 4.18 p.m., being the real meridian time for 4 p.m. at Toronto, the congregation rose and joined with those outside in uplifting with heart and voice their loyal prayer, “God save our gracious Queen.” Those were moments of a life-time while we waited in silence for the coming of the anthem. Thus actually minute after minute the Anthem strain followed the hours across this continent to the shores of the Pacific at Victoria, British Columbia, where an open-air service was held at the equivalent of 12.13 midnight at Windsor Castle. “Among those present at Beacon Hill Park were the Lieut.-Governor, the Mayor, the Admiral and officers of the ships in harbor. At 4 o’clock the bugles rang out, the royal standard was run up to the masthead, and the National Anthem was sung with full force by an assemblage of 12,000 people.”

From here, leaving the land, the Anthem wafted its way back to the place of beginning, being joined as it passed by the S.S. Aorangi, in lat. 32. 25. n.; long. 147. 49. w., and by the Empress of China, lat. 41. 16. n; long. 152. 30. w., until at length it came to the little island, which is as far on one side of long. 180, the central degree of longitude, a Levuka from where it had started is on the other. Here the West had met the East. I will give the last letter, as it deserves, in full, from the lighthouse-keeper on the island:—

Wailagilala Lighthouse, Fiji,

“17 South, 179.6, West Long.,

“26th September, 1897.

My Dear Sir,—As you expressed a wish in your circular to hear how the anniversary of the day on which Her Majesty began her happy reign was observed in each locality, and also on board passenger ships at sea, I hope you will be pleased to hear that all your instructions were carried out here, as fully as circumstances permitted, my situation here being unique. As this is the connecting link between the western and eastern hemispheres, it may happen that you will find by overlooking the places where the ceremony was observed, that my endeavors were successful in commencing or finishing the general celebration of the world. Being only 54 minutes west of the meridian, all ships passing either way ought to change the name of the day on their reckoning while within sight of this island. I obtained the correct astronomical time from the captain and officers of the steamer that calls here every three months. A doubt being expressed about the proper day, and as good action could not be performed too often, I observed both the 20th and 21st June in the same way. I also had a bonfire lit on both nights, so that ships passing either eastward or westward could see that the anniversary was being kept to suit either contingency. I would have written you earlier but there has been no means of communication between this island since the 16th of June last until to-day.”    Alfred Ffrench,


Here the circle of the world was complete and the Anthem had come back to the place of its beginning.

Thus have we Sons of England linked our fellow-colonists hand in hand in one continuous line around the world, and changed the ideal but historic “drumbeat” of the “Martial airs of England” into the absolute fact of the “Diamond Anthem” with which we have encircled the earth, and accompanied the hours throughout the Diamond Jubilee Accession Day of our beloved Queen.

One of the great records of Her Majesty’s Reign is the marvellous increase of her Colonial Kingdom; it is largely through her own personal influence that during those sixty years it has been extended and cared for. Gladly has this tribute of affection been given by her grateful Colonists to their Queen by thus joining together in their rejoicings in a way, “Hands All Round,” which was impossible at the beginning of her reign, but which she has by her broad-minded advance, herself made practicable, and which therefore has marked a record of her great life work.

In conclusion I express my thanks to the Staff of the Head Office for their cheerful aid in the vastly increased correspondence entailed by the Jubilee Work, to our own District Deputies and officers, and to the officers and members of other Societies and to the members of the Clergy for the efficient and enthusiastic arrangements they made for the Sons of England service in their separate localities. I hope and feel that our united labours will have been for the strengthening of our patriotism, the awakening of new energies for Union and the deepening of British interests throughout our Empire.

Trusting that my actions through the year will have received your approval,

I have the honour to be,

Yours faithfully and fraternally,









Sunday,  June  20th,  1897.





1. The members shall meet at their Lodge Rooms, or some other convenient place, and, clad in their regalia, shall march in procession to the Church selected.

2. Where there are two or more Lodges in the locality they shall attend one combined Service, which shall be held in a Church selected by the Joint Committee.

3. The District Deputy or Senior Past President shall, on arrival at the Church, deliver the Union Jack to the Minister, to be displayed upon the pulpit or upon the reading desk.

4. The Service shall commence at 3.30 p.m.

5. The opening hymn shall be the “Old Hundredth,”—“All people that on earth do dwell.”

6. At 4 p.m. precisely, according to astronomical time, being the time at which the sun passes over each locality, the congregation shall stand and sing three verses of the National Anthem, “God Save the Queen,” to be immediately followed by: (1) The Collect of Thanksgiving for Her Majesty’s Accession to the Throne; (2) The prayer for the Queen and Royal Family, as formerly used in the Thanksgiving Service for the 20th June.

7. The rest of the service to be the usual Sunday afternoon service, with an interval to permit of the National Anthem being sung as above, at the proper time. See Time Table herewith.

8. The Collection shall be given, as has been desired by Her Majesty, to some charitable purpose.

9. The closing hymn shall be: “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended.” No. 477, A. & M.

15. The Lodges shall invite the Municipal authorities and Sister Societies to attend the Service.

11. The District Deputies will be responsible for the fulfilment of these instructions.

By order.


Toronto, 8th April, 1897.

Unite the Empire; make it stand compact,

  Shoulder to shoulder, let its members feel

The touch of British brotherhood, and act

  As one Great Nation—strong and true as steel!


Misspelled words and printer errors have been corrected.

Inconsistencies in punctuation have been maintained.

Some illustrations were moved to facilitate page layout.

A cover was created for this eBook.


[The end of The Diamond Anthem by Barlow Cumberland]