BORN at Greenock, November 29, 1830, Dr. Elder Cumming was
at first destined by his father for the profession of law, but his own desires
turned towards the church, and after studying at Glasgow University he was, at
the age of 23, ordained minister of the eastmost of the three congregations
worshipping in the historic Parish Church of St. John at Perth - the church in
which Knox preached the sermon that finally lighted the conflagration of the
Reformation in Scotland. Six years later he removed to Newington, Edinburgh, and
during his eleven years there the membership of the congregation increased to
1,300. In 1871 he succeeded Dr. Macduff in Sandyford Parish, Glasgow, a charge
which he continued to hold for thirty-two years. A year later, while still only
forty-two, he received from his alma mater the degree of D.D.
There was an older Rev. Dr. Cumming in London at the time, a somewhat celebrated man. who showed some signs of resenting another of the name receiving the dignity. At a certain meeting he took occasion to ask the later recipient of the honour - "Are you the new Dr. Cumming?" To this the other replied, "I am the 'Elder' Cumming, from which I infer you must be the younger." Then, seeing a shade cross the face of his addresser he hastened to add - "But contraries are not always true, otherwise, as you are the famous Dr. Cumming, I must be the infamous one." A hearty laugh ensued, and the two became the best of friends.
Dr. Elder Cumming was the first to propose the abolition of patronage in the Church of Scotland. After an eight years' struggle the Act was carried in 1874. He has been the author of a number of works. His first production was "Abba Father," a dissertation on the Lord's Prayer. Next came an important volume on "The Church of Scotland," and later he wrote "Old Margaret," "Through the Eternal Spirit," "After the Spirit," "Scripture Photographs," "Holy Men of God," "Consecrated Work," and "He Chose Twelve," an outline sketch of the twelve Apostles; and then three volumes of a Devotional Commentary on the Psalms, and one volume on the Book of Ester.
On May 12, 1903, the occasion of his jubilee, Dr. Elder Cumming retired from the active charge of Sandyford Parish. He was then presented with valuable gifts and testimonials of esteem and affection, and he has since resided at St. Andrews.
Index of Glasgow Men (1909)