Book Review: “Morning Readings – By James Bourne”

Morning Readings – By James Bourne;

Hardback; 336 pages;

Published by Gospel Standard Trust Publications.


The little group of people who gathered round the Gilpins and Sukey Harley in Pulverbach has always been of great interest to the people of God.

Many were the writings from that period as the Gilpin family had a wonderful ability to note down the experience of so many of the poor miners and cottagers and then to publish them.

J.H. Alexander’s More Than Notion gathered together much of what took place and revived the interest in these godly people.

The one point that stands out is the deep, vital, experimental knowledge of the truth which so many of them possessed.

Not the least in interest and importance is James Bourne (1773-1854).

It was his visits to Pulverbach and the morning readings he took in various homes which God used to carry on this revival of vital godliness in this small Shropshire village.

James Bourne is an interesting character. Of gentlemanly birth, he was concerned what to do for a living. It was as if a voice from heaven said, “Draw” – and he proved to be a most accomplished artist, travelling about the country instructing wealthy families.

Some of his water colours can still be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is still possible, occasionally, to purchase a James Bourne water colour, usually of a pastoral scene, and they are, of course, costly.

One is kept in the Bethesda Home at Harpenden, and another is produced on the cover of Morning Readings.

The Life and Letters of James Bourne has long been highly esteemed. This new publication consists of 138 morning readings which he gave between 1837 and 1841, seemingly in his own home in London.

Later he became pastor at Maney Chapel, Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham.

These “morning readings” are not Bible studies in the normally accepted sense – that is, not so much an exposition as a profitable application of the passage read.

Originally they appeared in the Gospel Standard during J.K. Popham’s editorship, and are now gathered together for the first time. (Mr. Popham received continual help in his work from James Bourne’s granddaughters, the Misses Benson.)

One or two letters also appear and a little account of Watkin Maddy, who took the notes of the Bible readings.

A short biography of James Bourne would have been helpful.

The book is very beautifully produced.

By B.A. Ramsbottom


James Bourne (1773-1853) was the gospel minister used of God in the gracious awakening that occurred in the first half of the 19th century at Pulverbach in Shropshire. It was Mr Bourne’s custom to conduct family morning readings when he was at home in London.

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