Edwin George Monk

Last updated

Edwin George Monk FRAS (13 December 1819 – 3 January 1900), English church organist and composer, who was Organist and Master of Choristers at York Minster for a quarter of a century, and was previously associated with St Columba's and Radley Colleges. He was born on 13 December 1819 at Frome, Somerset, and died on 3 January 1900 at Radley, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire. [1] [2] [3]


Early career

Monk studied in Bath and London under George MacFarren (theory), John Pyke Hullah (singing) and Henry Philips (singing). [4] He was appointed organist at St John's, Midsomer Norton and afterwards at Christ Church, Frome. [2]

Dublin and Radley

In going to Dublin in 1844, Monk commenced an association with William Sewell and Robert Singleton at the newly established (1843) High Church Anglican St Columba's College, Rathfarnham. It was an association which continued when the three men jointly were involved in founding St Peter's College, Radley, in Oxfordshire three years later. Monk's position at St Columba's was as organist, Precentor and Master of Music, and he was made a Fellow of the college. [5]

Monk went to Oxford in 1847 and with Sewell and Singleton, [6] helped in establishing the new college at Radley. In 1848 he became the first Fellow of St Peter's College, Radley, again, as at St Columba's, as Precentor. [1] He features in entries in old boys' memoirs inter alia in connection with early games of cricket and football when there were insufficient boys to make up full teams. There is also an account of Monk having made a kite which was duly decorated with the school emblem and a device reading Sic itur ad astra. [7]

Monk pursued an academic career at Oxford, graduating BMus in 1848 and being awarded a doctorate in 1856. At Oxford Monk also founded the University Motet and Madrigal Society. In addition to his musical career, he was an amateur astronomer (becoming a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1871) and a Biblical scholar. [1]

At Radley, Monk built up a firmly founded choral tradition and oversaw installation of Singleton's organ.

York Minster

In 1859 E.G. Monk succeeded Thomas Simpson Camidge as organist at York Minster, and it was here that the long collaboration between himself and Singleton (who, after an interval living back in Ireland, had gone to York) resulted in the jointly edited collection The Anglican Hymn-Book – which contained nearly thirty original hymns. [8] E.G. Monk was one of the first twenty-one members of the Royal College of Organists. [9]

At York, Monk would oversee the rebuilding of both organs in the Minster. [1]

In retirement

Monk retired after nearly a quarter of a century of service at York Minster and returned to Radley, where he remained for the rest of his life, living in a house in the village. Following his death, he was interred alongside his wife, who predeceased him in 1883, in the Radley churchyard. No formal memorial commemorates him at Radley College, but the organ at St James's Church in the village was installed in his memory. [1]

Editor and composer

Monk is generally better known for his editorial work than for original compositions, the former including:

Of his compositional output, says Philip Scowcroft, Monk "nevertheless begat church music and cantatas conscientiously." [10] It has been noted that his most significant work was with Anglican psalms, and several of his own chants are still in regular use. [1] Especially well known amongst some forty hymn tunes is Monk's Angel Voices, composed in 1861 for Francis Pott's hymn of that name, written for the opening of an organ in Wingates Church, Lancashire. [11] Another of his tunes is Hopkins, associated with the hymn When from the East the wise men came. [2]

In addition Monk composed a number of choral concert works, and five anthems, as well as the librettos for three oratorios. [1]

Related Research Articles

Frederick Ouseley English composer and musicologist (1825-1889)

Sir Frederick Arthur Gore Ouseley, 2nd Baronet was an English composer, organist, musicologist and priest.

Sir Sydney Hugo Nicholson was an English choir director, organist and composer, now chiefly remembered as the founder of the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) and the compiler of The Parish Psalter.

Anglican church music

Anglican church music is music that is written for Christian worship in Anglican religious services, forming part of the liturgy. It mostly consists of pieces written to be sung by a church choir, which may sing a cappella or accompanied by an organ.

Basil Harwood English organist and composer (1859–1949)

Basil Harwood was an organist and composer in the English church music tradition, best known today for his liturgical works, particularly his anthem O How Glorious is the Kingdom (1898) and his Service in A flat (1892), which still remain popular in English churches. He wrote numerous hymn tunes, several of which became well-known including Luckington and Thornbury ("O Jesus I Have Promised" and "Thy hand, O God, has Guided").

William Henry Harris English organist and composer

Sir William Henry Harris was an English organist, choral trainer and composer, affectionately nicknamed "Doc H" by his choristers.

William Henry Sewell, English divine and author, helped to found two public schools along high church Anglican lines. A devout churchman, learned scholar and reforming schoolmaster, he was strongly influenced by the Tractarians.

Sir Edward Cuthbert Bairstow was an English organist and composer in the Anglican church music tradition.

T. Tertius Noble British organiast and composer (1867-1953)

Thomas Tertius Noble was an English-born organist and composer, who lived in the United States for the latter part of his career.

Alan Gray English organist and composer

Alan Gray was an English organist and composer.

Leeds Minster Church in England

Leeds Minster, or the Minster and Parish Church of Saint Peter-at-Leeds is the minster church of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It stands on the site of the oldest church in the city and is of architectural and liturgical significance. A church is recorded on the site as early as the 7th century, although the present structure is a Gothic Revival one, designed by Robert Dennis Chantrell and completed in 1841. It is dedicated to Saint Peter and was the Parish Church of Leeds before receiving the honorific title of "Minster" in 2012. It has been designated a Grade I listed building by Historic England.

Dr. Arthur Henry Mann, known affectionately as "Daddy Mann", was an English organist, choirmaster, teacher and composer who served as Director of Music at King's College Chapel, Cambridge, for more than 50 years.

The Camidge family supplied York Minster with organists for 103 years. Its members were:

Henry George Ley was an English organist, composer and music teacher.

William Henry Monk English organist, organist, composer and music editor (1823-1889)

William Henry Monk was an English organist, church musician and music editor who composed popular hymn tunes, including "Eventide", used for the hymn "Abide with Me", and "All Things Bright and Beautiful". He also wrote music for church services and anthems.

John Baptiste Calkin was an English composer, organist and music teacher.

Sydney Watson was an English church musician who was the organist of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford and conductor of the Oxford Bach Choir from 1955 to 1970.

Robert Corbet Singleton was Warden of St. Columba’s College, Dublin, subsequently First Warden of St. Peter’s College, Radley, and a noted writer and translator of hymns. He was born on 9 October 1810 in Ireland and died on 7 February 1881 in York, England.

Edward Johnson Bellerby LRAM was an English organist, composer and teacher.

Geoffrey Webber is a musician and academic, and the former Director of Music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

Francis Pott was an English hymnwriter and Anglican priest. He is noted as the author or translator of a number of popular Christian hymns including "Angel Voices, Ever Singing" and "The Strife is O'er, the Battle Done". His hymns are an established part of the Anglican church music repertoire and commonly feature in hymnals such as The New English Hymnal.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Edwin Monk". R.C. Singleton's Diary (1847). Radley College. 4 March 1847. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 Richard W. Adams (31 July 2019). "Edwin George Monk". hymntime.com. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  3. Banfield, Stephen (2001). "Monk, Edwin George". Grove Music Online. Oxford University Press. 1. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.18961.
  4. Moffatt, James (1927). Handbook to the Church Hymnary. Oxford University Press. p. 434.
  5. "The Fellows of St. Columba's College, Stackallan". R.C. Singleton's Diary (1847). Radley College. 24 July 1847. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  6. "Monro's school at Harrow Weald". R.C. Singleton's Diary (1847). Radley College. 23 March 1847. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  7. "Edward Howard". R.C. Singleton's Diary (1847). Radley College. 20 July 1847. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  8. "About Robert Singleton". R.C. Singleton's Diary (1847). Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  9. Pearce, Charles William (1911). A Biographical Sketch of Edmund Hart Turpin. Vincent Music.
  10. Scowcroft, Philip (n.d.). "Some Yorkshire Organist-Composers". MusicWeb (UK). Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  11. Francis Pott (1861). "Angel voices, ever singing". Hymnary.org. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
Preceded by Organist and Director of Music, York Minster
1859 1883
Succeeded by