Gustav Spiller

1864 - 1940

Gustav Spiller, was a member of the Ethical Societies that preceded the modern Humanist movement, and wrote a number of secular hymns and books including a history of these Societies, and on psychology. F. J. Gould in his Autobiography "The Life Story of a Humanist" (1923) mentions Spiller twice:

"A group of us met in Hackney (November, 1889) and planned an Ethical Society. The group included Gustav Spiller, an emancipated Jew from Budapesth [sic], much devoted to poetry and psychology, now a naturalized and excellent Englishman and attached to the Labour Office of the League of Nations at Geneva;" Spiller also read an address, written by Gould, at the funeral of six-year old Eva Minna (either his or Gould's daughter) in 1893.

He was Organiser of the First International Moral Education Congress (1909) and also the Universal Races Congress (1911). According to a PBS timeline: "A thousand people from 50 nations convene at the University of London to counter the work of the budding eugenics movement. Among the prominent scientists and scholars in attendance are Americans W. E. B. DuBois and anthropologist Franz Boas. Lead organizer Gustav Spiller sums up the group's findings as follows: 'We are then under the necessity of concluding that an impartial investigator would be inclined to look upon the various important peoples of the world as, to all intents and purposes, essentially equal in intellect, enterprise, morality and physique.' However, their work falls on deaf ears and has little impact."

He edited the papers from the proceedings of these two symposia. He also wrote numerous books including:

He was author alternative words to the music by Beethoven:


Years are coming, years are going
Creeds may change and pass away,
But the power of love is growing
Stronger, surer, day by day.
Be ye as the light of the morning,
Like the beauteous dawn unfold,
With your radiant hues adorning
All the world in shades of gold.

Thaw the hearts that now are frozen,
Thaw them by the rays of love,
And the task that ye have chosen,
Will be blest all else above.
For persistent, pure devotion
To the good of humankind
Is the star of our emotion
Is the anchor of our mind.

Selfish claims will soon no longer
Raise their harsh discordant sounds
For the law of love will conquer
Bursting hatred's narrow bounds:
Human love will spread a glory
Filling us with gladsome mirth,
Songs of joy proclaim the story
of a fair transfigured earth.

Sources and Links

Myweb.Tiscali [Ode to Joy]
PBS [Universal Races Congress]
Leicester Secular Society [F. J. Gould's autobiography]
e-Books Read [Spiller's works as E-books]
Flipkart [Race Conference Proceedings 1911]