Alexander Allan McArthur was born in Glasgow on May 24, 1916. Educated at Queen's Park Secondary School and the University of Glasgow, he graduated M. A. in 1937 and B.D. with distinction in Systematic Theology, in 1940.
Licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow in 1940 he acted as Locum Tenens at Selkirk West for a short time before going as an Assistant to Broomhill. He enlisted in the army in April 1941, and was ordained for service as a Chaplain to the Forces in February 1942.
His overseas service in Central Mediterranean Force ended in 1946 and on January 1 1947, he became Chaplain to the University of Aberdeen remaining in this office until 1952, in which year he gained his Doctorate of Philosophy. He was inducted to Peterhead Old Church on June 25, 1952, translated to Pollokshields-Titwood on September 27, 1956; and from there went, to St. Mary’s, Edinburgh, on June 16, I96S. St. Mary" was built in 1824 at a cost of £23,000 and was the third of the five churches erected by Edinburgh Town Council known as "The City Charges".
Dr. McArthur has written two books, "The Evolution of the Christian Year" (S.C.M. Press, London, 19S3 - American edition by Seabury Press, 1955) and "The Christian Year and Lectionary Reform" (S.C.M. Press, London, 1958). Twenty articles on the Christian Year were prepared by him for "A Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship", edited by J.G. Davies (S.C.M. Press, London, 1972).
In 1964, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches commissioned Dr. McArthur to act as an observer during the third session of the Second Vatican Council and September 14 found him in Rome where the Basilica of St. Peter was crowded for the opening ceremonies.
The commission entailed a heavy burden of responsibility but anyone who has read his comments cannot fail to be impressed by the unbiased presentation of his observations. Appointed to the triennial Hastie Lectureship at Glasgow University for 1962-1965 his theme in 1965 was "A Protestant looks at Rome, Reflections on the third session of Vatican II".
A true scion of the Macarthur clan, he lives up to their, motto "Fide et Opera" (By fidelity and work) and their war cry "Eisd, O' Eisd" (Listen, O! Listen).