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Reverend Canon Roy Henry Bowyer-Yin MA (Cantab), Chaplain and Master of Choir, was a clergyman known for introducing a tradition of choral music to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).[1] He left an abiding musical presence in Sri Lanka.[2]

Roy Henry Bowyer-Yin
Born7 October 1910
Died4 December 2010 (age 100)
EducationKing's College
OccupationClergyman, Missionary,Teacher of Mathematics
EmployerKing's College, S. Thomas' College, Mt Lavinia
Known forServices to Choral Music Drama and literature
TitleReverend Canon


Early Life and familyEdit

Roy Bowyer-Yin was born in Singapore 1910 the son of a Dr SC Yin (Yin Suat Chwan)[3] and his wife Lydia Florence Bowyer. He was the younger brother of Leslie Charteris.,[4][5] He later attended a preparatory school in Surrey and in 1924 received a scholarship to Marlborough College, Wiltshire. In Marlborough he established a reputation as a competent pianist and organist and a love of church music.[6]

King's CollegeEdit

Bowyer-Yin joined King's College, Cambridge as a Maths undergraduate in 1929, but later changed to Law and finally to history graduating with honours in 1932. He attended a theological college at Ripon College Cuddesdon and was ordained in the King's College Chapel, Cambridge on 18 October 1933. It was the first ordination to be held in the College. At the age of 23 on 7 October 1933, he assumed duties as Chaplain of King’s at the youngest permitted age for ordination to the deaconate[6] Bowyer-Yin’s interest in the music of the church resulted in lifelong friendships with the Dean of Chapel, Eric Milner-White and the choirmaster, Director of Music Boris Ord. From 1934, at the age of 23, until 1937 Rev. Yin served as Chaplain (Deacon) at King's College.[7]

Hurstpierpoint CollegeEdit

He subsequently served as Chaplain at Hurstpierpoint College in Sussex from 1937 to 1945, where he also taught mathematics.

S. Thomas’ CollegeEdit

In 1946 in what was to have been a six-month stint (while Canon Foster was on leave in England),[8][9][10] he became Chaplain and Master of the Choir at S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia, in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) when Canon Saram was warden, where he stayed until 1962. He is best remembered for introducing Anglican choral music and the traditional Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols to S. Thomas’ College. He was also responsible for initiating and approving the chapel mural of Christ’s Transfiguration, which was completed by Sri Lankan artist David Paynter in 1967. Bowyer-Yin also revived the Drama Society by producing Julius Caesar played in contemporary dress. [11] He is credited with composing the song "The School by the Sea".

"You'll always remember, wherever you may be;
the school of your boyhood, the school by the sea.
And you'll always remember the friendships fine and free,
that you made at S.Thomas', the school by the sea.

He was considered a talented pianist and an authority on J. S. Bach,[12][13][14] Russell Dias-Jayasinghe refers to him leaving behind an abiding musical presence as a legacy.[15] He was described as legendary by de Silva [1] His contributions were summarised as "music, mathematics and the ministry". He recruited and trained proteges (Russell Bartholomeusz (in music) and Rev LGB Fernando (music and teaching mathematics)).[9][16]The Roy Bower Yin Choir fund[17] and a memorial scholarship [18] were established in his memory. His love for rugby was well known as he was observed to run along the touchlines in his cassock urging the school team on and is commemorated by the award annually of the Bowyer-Yin prize for place kicking in Rugby.[10][19]


Bowyer-Yin is credited with introducing and fostering choral music in the wider community as well as in schools. He produced Purcell's 'Dido and Aeneas' for a public performance at the Lionl Wendt Theatre and formed a Madrigal group which gave its initial public performance in 1955.[20]


He was a vicar at St Hilda's Church in Katong from 1972–75, and was a resident assistant priest (1975–80), Canon (1980–82) and Canon Precentor (1982–84) at St Andrew's Cathedral in Singapore.[21][22]


Bowyer Yin later adopted Peter Ang, one of his students at the University of Malaya, where he taught in the 1960s. In his later years, he was cared for by Peter Ang’s son Andrew, adoptive granddaughter Valerie Gan and others in Peter's family. He died at their home aged 100.[23][24] Two hymns composed by Rev. Bowyer-Yin, "O Holy God, I Love Thee", which he wrote at the age of 25, and "Lord, Thou Hast Brought Us To Our Journey’s End", which Thomians of several generations have sung at end-of-term services were part of his funeral service.[25] A commemorative CD of his works was published posthumously by well wishers and past pupils[26]


  1. ^ a b "An ecclesia D-570 makes its debut at the Thomian ChapelN". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  2. ^ "He did not suffer fools gladly- Portrait of Canon Roy Yin". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  3. ^ "Dr SC Yin (Son Created The Saint) dies at age 82 The Singapore Free Press 3rd April 1958 page1". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  4. ^ "Roy Henry Bowyer-Yin (1910-2010)". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  5. ^ "17th December 2010 Roy Bowyer-Yin (1910-2010)". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  6. ^ a b "The Reverend Canon Row Henry Bowyer-Yin". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  7. ^ "Former Chaplain celebrates his 100th birthday". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  8. ^ "Reverend Canon Roy H.B. Yin". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  9. ^ a b ""He instilled in us the 3Ms of life-music, mathematics and ministry" in Plus Appreciations by Narme Wickramasinghe The Sunday Times 9th October 2011". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  10. ^ a b "The Rev canon Roy Bowyer-Yin The Newsletter 31.12.2006" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  11. ^ "Thomian Drama celebrates 125 years". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  12. ^ "Canon Roy Yin passes away". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  13. ^ "Rhby – Priest & Pedagogue Par Excellence". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  14. ^ "The Rev. Canon Roy Bower Yin The Old Boy Newsletter 31.12. 2006" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  15. ^ "He did not suffer fools gladly - Portrait of Canon Roy Yin". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  16. ^ "Fundraiser for 'The Canon Roy Yin Choir Fund' Sunday, 12 August 2012". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  17. ^ "Very recently the College launched the Roy Bower Yin Choir fund that would enable the choir to travel overseas". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  18. ^ "The Rev Roy Yin Scholarship The Newsletter 31.12.2006". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  19. ^ Prize List S Thomas'College prize giving 1965"
  20. ^ "He did not suffer fools gladly - Portrait of Canon Roy Yin". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  21. ^ "Portrait of Reverend Canon Roy Yin, Vicar of St. Hilda's Church". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  22. ^ St. Hilda's Church 50th Golden Jubilee Anniversary : 1934-1984, page 15
  23. ^ "Rev. Bowyer Yin of S. Thomas', Mt. Lavinia, passes away in Singapore". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  24. ^ "former-chaplain-dies-age-100". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  25. ^ "Rev Bowyer-Yin of S'Thomas. Mt Lavinia, passes away in Singapore". Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  26. ^ "Letter From Roger Aldons Dear Fellow Thomians, Friends,members of the Thomian Community overseas and the committee of the STCOBA Branches Worldwide". Retrieved 2014-04-10.

List of notable Old Marlburians