The Ryerson Essays represented the first substantial publishing initiative undertaken by Lorne Pierce after he joined the Methodist Book and Publishing House/Ryerson Press in 1920. The initial advertisement for the series appeared in the Christian Guardian in March 1921. Predominantly theological in focus, these essays appeared in brochure format and tended to be brief – usually less than fifty pages. Priced between five and thirty-five cents, they were “derived to provide the scholar and lay reader with authoritative and ready information on questions of current importance.”1
Pierce enthusiastically published the first essay in the series – Harris Franklin Bell’s Was John Wesley a Premillenialist? (1921) – in a print run of 5000. (New York’s Methodist Book Concern had previously issued the essay.) Subsequent Ryerson Essays generally appeared in more constrained print runs of 1000, but did not sell well.2 Their authors typically received a royalty, but not always.3 Although only two titles appeared in the series in 1921, by September of that year, Pierce recorded in his private diary that he felt he was “making some real progress with my Ryerson essays.”4 In 1922, another eight Ryerson Essays issued from the press, including Waddill Catchings’s Our Common Enterprise, William Alva Gifford’s John Wesley, Patriot and Statesman, Samuel Peter Rose’s Old Testament Prophesy, George Coulson Workman’s Is Jesus Coming Again?, and four essays by Albert Morris Sanford. Pierce’s biographer Sandra Campbell notes that the Ryerson Essays “were criticized by some within the Methodist and Presbyterian churches as too ‘modernist’ on subjects like the Virgin Birth, but they received favourable attention in other quarters. By 1924, the Montreal Gazette was referring to Pierce as the ‘brilliant editor of the Ryerson Essays.’”5 In those early years, Pierce himself contributed two essays to the series: Primitive Methodism and the New Catholicism (1923) and The Beloved Community (1924).
Titles continued to be issued in the series for the remainder of the 1920s, and into the 1930s. A sampling of titles from the mid- to late-1920s include: Alfred Gandier’s The Doctrinal Basis of Union and Its Relation to the Historic Creeds (1926), John Line’s The Doctrine of Christ in History (1926), George Frederick Kingston’s The Foundations of Faith (1928), William George Jordan’s The British-Israel Theory (1929), and William Morgan’s Immortality (1929). In the early 1930s, there appeared, among others, Samuel Dwight Chown’s Some Causes of the Decline of the Earlier Typical Evangelism (1930), David Christie’s The Ministry To-day and To-morrow (1932), and William Charles Good’s Is Democracy Doomed? (1933). Campbell notes that, “Years later, Pierce glumly recalled of the series: ‘Religious and theological works we nibbled at, feeling under obligation to publish good books by our own men, but they nearly all left us in the red.’”6
List of Ryerson Essays7
1 Harris Franklin Bell, Was John Wesley a Premillenialist?
2 L.H.C. Hopkins, The I.B.S.A. or Russellism
3 Samuel P[eter] Rose, Old Testament Prophecy
4 George Coulson Workman, Is Jesus Coming Again?
5 Waddill Catchings, Our Common Enterprise: A Way Out for Labor and Capital
6 Albert M[orris] Sanford, “The Revelation of God to Man”
7 Albert M[orris] Sanford, “Inspiration and Infallibility”
8 Albert M[orris] Sanford, “Literalistic Interpretations of the Scriptures”
9 Albert M[orris] Sanford, “The Development of Paul’s Theology”
17 William Alva Gifford, John Wesley, Patriot and Statesman
10 W.W. Andrews, Christ and the Ecclesiastical Spirit, and, Nature and Self-Sacrifice
11 John Haynes Holmes, John Wesley and the Methodist Revolt
12 Samuel P[eter] Rose, The Genius of Methodism
13 F. Louis Barber, The Philosophy of John Wesley
14 Newell Dwight Hillis, John Wesley and the Moral Awakening of the Common People
15 Samuel Thomas Tucker, The Evolution of the Democratic Ideal in the Old Testament
16 Roy M. Pounder, Some Thoughts about God
18 Robert E[dis] Fairbairn, Faith Healing
19 Albert M[orris] Sanford, The Fourth Gospel: Distinctive Messages
20 Samuel P[eter] Rose, The Things that Remain: A Confession of Faith
21 A.D. Belden, The Greater Christ
22 Albert Durrant Watson and Margaret Lawrence, Mediums and Mystics: A Study in Spiritual Laws and Psychic Forces
23 George Coulson Workman, Divine Healing or True Science vs. Christian Science and Faith-Cure
24 William Creighton Graham, John Wesley as a Letter Writer
25 A[lbert] M[orris] Sanford, The Person and Work of Jesus. Part I
26 Lorne Albert Pierce, Primitive Methodism and the New Catholicism
27 A[lbert] M[orris] Sanford, The Person and Work of Jesus. Part II
28 Samuel P[eter] Rose, How We Came by Our English Bible
29 Lorne [Albert] Pierce, The Beloved Community: Social Studies in Rural Progress
30 John Line, The Doctrine of Christ in History
31 Henry Mick, The Significance of the Cross
32 W[illiam] G[eorge] Jordan, England Revisited
33 D.L. Ritchie, The Genius of Congregationalism
34 Alfred Gandier, The Doctrinal Basis of Union and Its Relation to the Historic Creeds
35 John Clarence Webster, The Distressed Maritimes: A Study of Educational and Cultural Conditions in Canada
36 Charles Herbert, Sunday in the Home
37 George Frederick Kingston, The Foundations of Faith: A Study in Levels of Belief with Suggestions as to Corresponding Stages in Individual and Social Development
38 William George Jordan, The British-Israel Theory
39 R.J. Wilson, Church Union in Canada after Three Years
40 Suggested Courses of Study for the Guidance of Busy Ministers
41 W[illiam] Morgan, Immortality
42 Ernest Thomas, Pentecost What It Was – And What It Means
43 Samuel Dwight Chown, Some Causes of the Decline of the Earlier Typical Evangelism
44 W[illiam] G[eorge] Jordan, Voltaire the Crusader
45 Group Discussions on Reading
46 H.D. Ranns, Careers for Canadians
47 Keith F. Rogers, Doctor’s Advice to His Son: A Discussion of the Problems Peculiar to Youths and Men, with a Presentation of the Established Scientific Facts Underlying These Problems
48 Osbert Morley Sandford, The Genius of the United Church
49 Harvey G. Forster, Man and His Universe: A Study in Cosmic Adjustments
50 A.S. Tuttle, A Present Day Problem: How to Make Religion Effective in a Mechanized Age
51 Robert Edis Fairbairn, Did You Know Jesus?
52 J.G. Perold, Unemployment and Christianity
53 David Christie, The Ministry To-day and To-morrow
54 W.R. Morson, Prosperity and Depression: Canada’s Place in Empire Industry
55 Percy W. Wright; foreword by Harold A. Innis, Smoothing the Bumps in Business: A Consideration of the Problems of Avoiding Recurrent “Boom” and “Depression”
56 Kenneth M. Munro, Divine Optimism
58 Challenge of the Oxford Group Movement: An Attempt at Appraisal
59 William Charles Good, Is Democracy Doomed?
60 Robert Edis Fairbairn, Kingdom of God Evangelism
61 George Coulson Workman, Immortal Life
1 “Reflecting the Canadian Life in New Literary Development [advertisement],” Saturday Night 28 October 1922: 8.
2 Sandra Campbell, Two Hands: A Life of Lorne Pierce of Ryerson Press (Montreal/Kingston: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2013) 180.
3 Janet B. Friskney, “The Years Before Union: Samuel Fallis, Lorne Pierce, and the Ryerson Press, 1919-1926,” Epilogue 13 (1998-2003): 78-79.
4 Cited in Friskney 78.
5 Campbell 180.
7 Ryerson University Library’s McGraw-Hill Ryerson Press Collection contains numbers 1-32, 35 bound together by themes in seven volumes. Unbound essays also included in the Collection are numbers 2, 9, 23, 26, 27, 29, 36, 44, , 53, 54, 55, 56. and 59.