Robert Elden Edwards
1924 - 2004
Bob Edwards was first tenor in the Voice of Prophecy King's Heralds quartet from 1947 to 1971, a record length in service. Besides his musical gifts, Edwards read widely and assisted in writing for the broadcast. He wrote five books, three of which, Hello America!, H.M.S. Richards: A Biography, and A Voice in the Air, were about the VOP broadcast. He also wrote Scrolls and Bones and Talking Stones, a book on archeology, and South of the Border, a record of highlights from the King's Heralds' first trip in Central and South America. He was fascinated by archeology and astronomy and traveled to many biblical sites.
Robert was born in Kokomo, Indiana, on November 18, 1924, the younger of two sons of Lowell Adelbert and Josephine Thelma Cunnington Edwards. Since his father was a pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist church, the family moved often. Robert's mother provided a supportive and stable home for the children in their early years despite the frequent moves. She was a teacher who became a noted storyteller in the church, writing over two dozen books and numerous articles enjoyed by both children and adults.
After attending elementary schools in Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, he attended Maplewood Academy in Minnesota, where he was deeply influenced by his music teacher, Adrian Lauritzen. In a Winter 1991 article in Adventist Heritage he described his early years in music and at the school:
As early as I can remember, I had always loved to sing. I was four years old when I sang my first solo, Marching to Zion. I stood on a chair in the Muncie, Indiana, Seventh-day Adventist Church while my proud parents and grandparents beamed.
Later, in Maplewood Academy, we had an active music department. We students loved and respected Adrian Lauritzen, our music teacher, and most of us wanted to be in one or more of his musical organizations. He directed the academy choir (80 members out of 150 students), the band, the Choral Club (by letter of invitation only), and the Male Chorus. But the day he encouraged us to form a male quartet, I discovered my life's obsession. Even now, after 50 years, I can still remember the fun we had harmonizing in the dormitory shower room late at night after lights were out.
It was in the late 1930's, just at the tail end of the Depression, so we did not have money to buy matching suits, but we did manage to get matching maroon bow ties. Actually, we got to be pretty good - good enough to be drafted to go on tours all over the state recruiting students and promoting the academy. We had to get our songs from the good old Rodeheaver Quartets for Men, Modern Quartets for Men, or Coleman's Quartet Book.
Following academy graduation, Edwards enrolled at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. At the end of his first year he transferred to Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, where he completed a degree with a major in religion and a minor in music.
He had just completed his first year as a pastor and singing evangelist in Florida when he was invited to join the King's Heralds in 1947, a time when many changes were taking place in the quartet. When Wayne Hooper organized a new quartet in 1949, he included Edwards, having worked with him before. The 1949 quartet would continue without change for 12 years, creating a stable group that, with its blend of voices and production of quality records utilizing new recording techniques, defined the King's Heralds sound for literally thousands of listeners.
After he left the quartet, Edwards worked closely with H.M.S. Richards in developing a fifteen-minute daily broadcast. He continued to serve as a researcher and producer for those broadcasts until his retirement in 1989. After retirement, he continued to assist the VOP by serving as a counselor in the Bible correspondence school. He was living in Malibu, California, when he died on June 3, 2004, at age 79.
Sources: Robert E. Edwards, Hello America!, December 1961; Bob Edwards, "Singing As I Go," Adventist Heritage, Winter 1991, 43-46 (Quotation in biography from page 44 of this article); Robert E. Edwards, H.M.S. Richards, 1998; VOP website information; Interviews with Wayne Hooper, February 2005.