Billy Bray was part of the folklore that I grew up with. I grew up in the southwest of Britain and Billy Bray is fairly well-known down there as a somewhat eccentric preacher in the 19th century. There’s one book about Billy Bray and a few articles here and there, and they’re mostly from the point of view of evangelical Christians talking about what a wonderful man of God he was. But the thing that interests me about Billy is not that aspect of it so much as the fact that he had this incredible capacity for joy in every aspect of his life.
Jim Coyle. Photo: supplied
He was an extraordinarily energetic man. As well as working as a tin miner and raising food for his large family – and a number of orphans that he adopted – and building churches with his own hands, he would regularly walk 20 miles every Sunday to preach two or three times, and, apparently every step of the way he rejoiced.
It just struck me that there’s very little music about joy. There’s a lot of music about pain and...