Douglas Albert Raoul Aufranc
Douglas Albert Raoul Aufranc, writer of "Far From All Care," Hymn #394 in the 1985 Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, was a physician and dentist in London. Inspired by the solitude he experienced during a vacation on the Sussex coast of England in 1940, he returned home and wrote this hymn celebrating the Sabbath and its respite from the cares of life.
D.A.R. Aufranc, or Rollie as he was known by his friends and family throughout his life, was a third-generation Adventist. His grandfather, a professor of languages and translator, was one of the first European converts to the church, due to the efforts of J. N. Andrews in Switzerland.
Rollies father, Paul Louis, migrated to England while young and married Annie Marie Armstrong, daughter of Edward and Frances Hunter Armstrong, whose family members were leaders in the SDA work in that country. Both Paul and Annie were prominent and active members in the North London church.
Rollie, their only child, was born May 14, 1892 in Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, France. He married Gertrude Mary McMillan on January 25, 1925 in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, and they would have one son, Paul Raoul.
Aufranc became a well-known physician and served as an advisor for the Good Health Association, a group of Adventist medical institutions in Great Britain. Additionally, at the time of the coronation of King George VI in 1937, an article by him, "Fighting against Death," was one of eleven featured in a church commemorative magazine published in Britain titled This Century of Wonders.
His son, Paul Raoul, recently noted:
My father was one of those curious people who qualify as doctors but never practice medicine. In my father's case, he even qualified as a surgeon as well, without practicing. He worked as a dental surgeon, chiefly for the Hampstead General Outpatients Department, where he held a clinic one morning a week for many years.
Apart from the hymns that he composed for the SDA Church, he longed to be a successful composer of popular music, as played by the dance bands of the day. He did have some tunes and songs published, but paid for this to be done, I believe. The fact that they were not a success was a great disappointment to him.
Aufranc was a regular contributor in the 1930s and early 1940s to the world church's official magazine, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, later the Review and Herald, authoring both articles and poems. He also wrote practical articles on health, which appeared in the church's Life and Health magazine.
His article "The Meaning of the Manger" was the lead story in a special 1938 Christmas issue of Present Truth, and yet another, "Is Lasting Peace Possible?", was presented in the following year's holiday issue of the same magazine. The question posed by the title of the article was uppermost in the minds of Britons since they had just declared war on Germany three months earlier, following the invasion of Poland by Germany.
Although there have been rumors that Aufranc did not enjoy good health in his later years and that he died in obscurity in a nursing home, his son wrote a clarifying note in 2011:
I do not know where the idea of my father's ill health has come from; perhaps from him, himself - he was always a great complainer. In fact, I never knew him to have a day's illness until just before he died. He recovered immediately but then suddenly died on April 18, 1979, a month short of his 87th birthday. He chose to live at a home for the elderly in Truro, Cornwall, England, after my mother died in 1972.
A friend of his, Charlotte G. Morton, who kept in contact with him, was concerned when letters between them ceased in late 1979 and was upset by the fact that his death passed unnoticed and was not known outside the family until over a year later. Paul also commented about the family's friendship with the Mortons:
Charlotte Morton and her husband used to visit Cornwall. I remember picking them up in the car and bringing them to visit us. Charlotte may have been concerned at first, when my father's letters to her stopped without her knowing that he had died, but then I began to write to her and continued to do so for fifteen years after my father's death. I still have copies of letters that I sent her.
In addition to the hymn chosen for inclusion in the 1985 SDA Hymnal, Aufranc also wrote two others that were published in the 1941 SDA Church Hymnal, "Alone With Thee," #335, and "There Is a Road," #374.
Sources: Paul Raoul Aufranc, email exchange with me in October and November 2011; Hainings, Harrowers, Powells, Richmonds, and related families tree ( http://www.hainings.net/1108.htm); Wayne H. Hooper and Edward E. White, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 1988, Review and Herald Publishing Association, pg. 401 (death date given is incorrect); "An In Memoriam," tribute to Aufranc by D. N. Marshall, published in the March 13, 1981 British Advent Messenger, pg.15, and other articles found in the April 2, 1937, December 9, 1938, December 8, 1939 issues of the same magazine; and the obituary for his father, Paul, in the April 11, 1929 Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. His writings in the ARSH were published in the July 16, 1930, December 25, 1930, January 1, 1931, December 10, 1931, December 24, 1936, and September 25, 1941 issues.