Aviators in Hymns

When CAHS membership secretary John Chalmers went to church on July 2, 2017, he didn’t expect to learn about early aviators! The day after the 150th anniversary of confederation, the church service was organized around hymns from 150 years of history.

One of those hymns, “Crusaders of the Air,” was written as a tribute to early aviators who were at risk in flying and in attempting record-setting flights, sometimes with tragic results. The hymn was written by Kathryn Munro Tupper in 1925 as a poem in a small book of poetry called Under the Maple.

Another poem in Kathryn’s chapbook was dedicated to the memory of William George Barker VC, a fighter pilot of the First World War and the most decorated serviceman in Canadian history. Seen in the photo below, he died at the young age of 35 in 1930 while doing a demonstration flight.

The church service prompted John to write an essay called “What I Learned in Church About Aviation.” It first appeared in print in the newsletter of the Historical Society of Alberta (HSA) in January 2019. Since then, it has been picked up and published by the Royal Canadian Air Force, where it can be seen online when you click here.

In pdf form from the HSA, it can be read and downloaded when you click here. William Barker was an original Member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. In John’s essay, other early pilots are mentioned whose outstanding accomplishments have contributed to Canadian aviation heritage and history.