The 14th edition of the Wesley College Song Book is a powerful reminder that singing has been very much part of the Wesley way of life ever since the publication of the first pamphlet of songs in the 1890s.
Over the decades the Song Book has evolved, with each new edition reflecting the metre of the school and the times. It is fitting that one of the greatest treasures in the Wesley College Archives is a simple and yet extraordinarily beautifully hand-illustrated book of Wesley College songs produced by former student, F Beaumont Phillips, known as Monte since his school days.
Badly damaged by fire in 1989, the hand-drawn ink musical scores and the exceptionally fine pencil and watercolour illustrations held fast. This treasure from the past, conserved for future generations to admire, elegantly embodies the ethos of the College – make the most of your schooldays and life after school by living life fully. It is in effect an encapsulation of our motto, Dare to be Wise.
Monte presented this remarkable book to Headmaster LA Adamson as a gesture of appreciation for all that Adamson had done for him as a student.
For Monte, a big part of Wesley was singing – particularly massed school singing in the newly opened Adamson Hall. Born in 1890 in Ballarat, Monte entered Wesley in 1904 as a boarder, pupil number 3130, on a government scholarship.
It was Adamson’s practice to write to boys on the government scholarship list advising them that a place was available at Wesley College. Monte came to Wesley determined to do well. As Andrew Lemon in A Great Australian School: Wesley College examined notes, ‘Musically gifted, (Monte) collaborated with Adamson in creating and perfecting many Wesley school songs.’
After Monte’s death in 1957 and the death of his wife in the mid-1990s, Monte’s gratitude was revealed in an extremely generous bequest to his old school, and yet just as meaningful are the beautiful Wesley College songs that he fashioned with LA Adamson, one of the reasons that singing remains an indelible part of the Wesley experience.
Read more about F Beaumont Phillips (Monte) in Andrew Lemon, A Great Australian School: Wesley College examined, Wesley College Chronicle and Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.