William Croft

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William Croft as a choirboy, ca. 1690. WilliamCroftChoirboy.jpg
William Croft as a choirboy, ca. 1690.

William Croft (baptised 30 December 1678 – 14 August 1727) was an English composer and organist.

Baptism Christian rite of admission and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water

Baptism is a Christian rite of admission and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. The synoptic gospels recount that John the Baptist baptised Jesus. Baptism is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. Baptism is also called christening, although some reserve the word "christening" for the baptism of infants. It has also given its name to the Baptist churches and denominations.

Contents

Life

Croft was born at the Manor House, Nether Ettington, Warwickshire. He was educated at the Chapel Royal under the instruction of John Blow, and remained there until 1698. Two years after this departure, he became organist of St. Anne's Church, Soho and he became an organist and 'Gentleman extraordinary' at the Chapel Royal. [1] He shared that post with his friend Jeremiah Clarke. [2] [1]

Ettington village in United Kingdom

Ettington is a village and civil parish about 5.5 miles (9 km) south-east of Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 1,171.

The Chapel Royal is an establishment in the Royal Household serving the spiritual needs of the sovereign of the British royal family. Historically it was a body of priests and singers that travelled with the monarch. The term is now also applied to the chapels within royal palaces, most notably at Hampton Court and St James's Palace, and other chapels within the Commonwealth designated as such by the monarch.

John Blow English composer

John Blow was an English Baroque composer and organist, appointed to Westminster Abbey in 1669. His pupils included William Croft, Jeremiah Clarke and Henry Purcell. In 1685 he was named a private musician to James II. His only stage composition, Venus and Adonis, is thought to have influenced Henry Purcell's later opera Dido and Aeneas. In 1687 he became choirmaster at St Paul's Cathedral, where many of his pieces were performed. In 1699 he was appointed to the newly created post of Composer to the Chapel Royal.

In 1707, he took over the Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal post, which had been left vacant by the suicide of Jeremiah Clarke, [1] (one of Croft's pupils in this capacity was Maurice Greene). The following year, Croft succeeded Blow (who had lately died) as organist of Westminster Abbey. [1] He composed works for the funeral of Queen Anne (1714) and for the coronation of King George I (1715).

The Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal was the choirmaster of the Chapel Royal of England. They were responsible for the musical direction of the choir, which consisted of the Gentlemen of the Chapel and Children of the Chapel. In some periods regarded as the most prestigious choral directorship in the country, the holder was given power to take boys into service from the leading cathedral choirs.

Maurice Greene (composer) English composer and organist

Maurice Greene was an English composer and organist.

Westminster Abbey Church in London

Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom's most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. The building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Between 1540 and 1556, the abbey had the status of a cathedral. Since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey or a cathedral, having instead the status of a Church of England "Royal Peculiar"—a church responsible directly to the sovereign.

In 1724, Croft published Musica Sacra, a collection of church music, the first such collection to be printed in the form of a score. It contains a Burial Service, which may have been written for Queen Anne or for the Duke of Marlborough. [3] Shortly afterwards his health deteriorated, and he died while visiting Bath.

One of Croft's most enduring pieces is the hymn tune "St Anne" written to the poem Our God, Our Help in Ages Past by Isaac Watts. Other composers subsequently incorporated the tune in their own works. Handel used it, for instance, in an anthem entitled O Praise the Lord and also Hubert Parry in his 1911 Coronation Te Deum . [4] Bach's Fugue in E-flat major BWV 552 is often called the "St. Anne", due to the similarity (coincidental in this case) of its subject to the hymn melody's first phrase. Croft also wrote various violin sonatas, which are not nearly as often performed as is his religious music, but have been occasionally recorded.

Hymn tune musical setting of a Christian hymn; the melody of a musical composition to which a hymn text is sung

A hymn tune is the melody of a musical composition to which a hymn text is sung. Musically speaking, a hymn is generally understood to have four-part harmony, a fast harmonic rhythm, and no refrain or chorus.

Isaac Watts English hymnwriter, theologian and logician

Isaac Watts was an English Christian minister (Congregational), hymn writer, theologian, and logician. He was a prolific and popular hymn writer and is credited with some 750 hymns. He is recognized as the "Godfather of English Hymnody"; many of his hymns remain in use today and have been translated into numerous languages.

An anthem is a musical composition of celebration, usually used as a symbol for a distinct group, particularly the national anthems of countries. Originally, and in music theory and religious contexts, it also refers more particularly to short sacred choral work and still more particularly to a specific form of Anglican church music.

Perhaps Croft's most notable legacy is the suite of Funeral Sentences which have been described as a "glorious work of near genius". [5] First published as part of the Burial Service in Musica Sacra, the date and purpose of their composition is uncertain. [6] The seven Sentences themselves are from the Book of Common Prayer and are verses from various books of the Bible, intended to be said or sung during an Anglican funeral. [7] One of the sentences, Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts, was not composed by Croft, but by Henry Purcell, part of his 1695 Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary. Croft wrote:

<i>Book of Common Prayer</i> Prayer book used in most Anglican churches

The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by other Christian churches historically related to Anglicanism. The original book, published in 1549 in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English Reformation following the break with Rome. The work of 1549 was the first prayer book to include the complete forms of service for daily and Sunday worship in English. It contained Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, the Litany, and Holy Communion and also the occasional services in full: the orders for Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, "prayers to be said with the sick", and a funeral service. It also set out in full the "propers" : the introits, collects, and epistle and gospel readings for the Sunday service of Holy Communion. Old Testament and New Testament readings for daily prayer were specified in tabular format as were the Psalms; and canticles, mostly biblical, that were provided to be said or sung between the readings.

Henry Purcell English composer

Henry Purcell was an English composer. Although incorporating Italian and French stylistic elements into his compositions, Purcell's legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music. He is generally considered to be one of the greatest English composers; no later native-born English composer approached his fame until Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, William Walton and Benjamin Britten in the 20th century.

"...there is one verse composed by my predecessor, the famous Mr Henry Purcell, to which, in justice to his memory, his name is applied. The reason why I did not compose that verse anew (so as to render the whole service entirely of my own composition) is obvious to every Artist; in the rest of that service composed by me, I have endeavoured as near as I could, to imitate that great master and celebrated composer, whose name will for ever stand high in the rank of those who have laboured to improve the English style..." [8]

Croft's Funeral Sentences were sung at George Frederic Handel's funeral in 1759, [9] and have been included in every British state funeral since their publication. Recent uses have been at the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, [9] Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 2002 [10] and Baroness Thatcher in 2012. [11]

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Dennis Shrock Choral Repertoire , p. 325, at Google Books
  2. John Calvert A Collection of Anthems Used in Her Majesty's Chapel Royal, the Temple ... , p. 15, at Google Books
  3. Spink (1995), p. 183
  4. Range, Matthias (2012), Music and Ceremonial at British Coronations: From James I to Elizabeth II Cambridge University Press, ISBN   978-1-107-02344-4 (p. 241)
  5. Long, Kenneth R. (1972). The Music of the English Church. London: Hodder and Stoughton. p. 291.
  6. Range, Matthias (2009). "William Croft's Burial Service and Purcell's "Thou knowest, Lord"". The Musical Times. 150 (1906): 54–68. JSTOR   25597602.
  7. "The Book of Common Prayer – The Order for the Burial of the Dead". churchofengland.org. The Archbishops' Council. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  8. "Music by Henry Purcell (1659–1695)" (PDF). chorus.ucdavis.edu. University Chorus, University of California at Davis. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  9. 1 2 Burrows, Donald (2012) Handel, Oxford University Press, ISBN   978-0-19-973736-9 (p. 327)
  10. Starkey, David and Greening, Katie (2012), Music and Monarchy, BBC Books, ISBN   978-1-849-90586-2 (p. 350)
  11. "Order of Service for Margaret Thatcher's funeral at St Paul's Cathedral". Daily Mail. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Francis Pigott
Joint First Organist of the Chapel Royal with Jeremiah Clarke
1704–1707
Succeeded by
William Croft
Preceded by
William Croft and Jeremiah Clarke
First Organist of the Chapel Royal
1707–1727
Succeeded by
Maurice Greene
Preceded by
John Blow
Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey
1708–1727
Succeeded by
John Robinson
Preceded by
John Blow
Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal
1708–1727
Succeeded by
Bernard Gates