Above: Westminster Abbey, Between 1910 and 1920
Copyright Claimant = Detroit Publishing Company
Image Source = Library of Congress
Reproduction Number = LC-D4-73196
WILLIAM CROFT (BAPTIZED DECEMBER 30, 1678-DIED AUGUST 14, 1727)
Anglican Organist and Composer
William Croft was one of the greatest composers of English church music. He wrote hymn tunes (including “St. Anne,” the tune for “O God, Our Help in Ages Past;” and Hanover, the tune for “Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim”), services, odes, anthems, and sonatas–even some incidental music–and influenced the cantatas of George Frederick Handel. Croft’s Musica Sacra (1724) contained thirty of his anthems and his setting of the burial service from The Book of Common Prayer (1662).
Croft’s musical career began in the Chapel Royal, where, when he was quite young, he sang in the choir. Later he became a church organist–first at St. Anne’s Church, Soho; then at the Chapel Royal (1704-1708, jointly with Jeremiah Clark through 1707); then at Westminster Abbey, beginning in 1708. Croft divided his time between Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal, where he was a composer. And Oxford University bestowed the Mus.Doc. degree upon him in 1713.
Croft died of an illness
occasioned by his attendance on his duty
at the coronation of King George II (reigned 1727-1760). Our saint’s epitaph reads in part:
In his celebrated works, which for the most part he dedicated to God, he made a diligent progress; nor was it by the solemnity of the numbers alone, but by the force of his ingenuity; and the sweetness of his manner, and even his countenance, he excellently recommended them. Having resided among mortals for fifty years, behaving with the utmost candor (not more conspicuous of any other office of humanity than a friendship and a love truly fraternal towards all whom he instructed), he departed to the heavenly choir,…that, being near, he might add his own Hallelujah to the concert of angels.
–Quoted in Robert Guy McCutchan, Our Hymnody: A Manual of The Methodist Hymnal, 2d. ed. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1937, page 217)
I, as a lover of refined church music, appreciate William Croft’s contributions to the field.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MAY 25, 2013 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF NICOLAUS SELNECKER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER
THE FEAST OF SAINT ALDHELM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP
THE FEAST OF SAINT MADELEINE SOPHIE BARAT, MOTHER SUPERIOR OF THE SOCIETY OF THE SACRED HEART
THE FEAST OF VENERABLE BEDE OF JARROW, HISTORIAN AND ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK
Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:
We bless your name for inspiring William Croft and all those
who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;
through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit
lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Chronicles 29:14b-19
2 Corinthians 3:1-3
John 21:15-17, 24-25
–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728