Archive for the ‘Thomas Greatorex’ Tag

Feast of Henry Wellington Greatorex (September 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Greatorex’s Gloria Patri

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from The Methodist Hymnal (1935)

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HENRY WELLINGTON GREATOREX (DECEMBER 24, 1813-SEPTEMBER 18, 1858)

Anglican and Episcopal Organist, Choirmaster, and Hymnodist

Henry Wellington Greatorex comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Methodist Hymnal (1935), The Hymnal (1941), and The Methodist Hymnal (1966).  My main sources for this post are the companion volumes for those hymnals.

Henry, born in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, on December 24, 1813, came from an illustrious family of church musicians.  Our saint’s grandfather, Anthony Greatorex, was the organist at Burton-on-Trent, as well as the composer of the hymn tune BURTON.  Our saint’s father, Thomas Greatorex, was the organist at Carlisle Cathedral.  In 1819. Thomas became the organist at Westminster Abbey.  He also composed hymn tunes (including TOTTENTAM), chants, and other church music.  Furthermore, Thomas was a conductor.   When he died, he was destined for a burial inside Westminster Abbey.  Henry, born in Burton-in-Trent, site of the family’s country home, grew up there and in London.  He also received a fine education, especially in church music.

Above:  Center Church, Hartford, Connecticut

Image Source = Google Earth

Henry moved to the United States in 1839.  He had accepted an invitation to become the organist at Center Church (the First Church of Christ), Hartford, Connecticut.  Our saint, who enjoyed living in Hartford, served as the organist of Center Church for about two years.  After leaving Hartford and staying away briefly, he moved to West Hartford and became the organist at St. John’s Episcopal Church, recently founded.  

Above:  St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York, New York

Image Source = Google Earth

In 1846, Henry transferred to St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York, New York, to work as the organist.  After leaving St. Paul’s Chapel, our saint served as the organist-choirmaster of Calvary Episcopal Church, New York, New York.  Then he relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1853, to serve as an Episcopal Church organist.  He died of yellow fever on September 18, 1858.  He was 44 years old.

Our saint married twice.  He married Frances (Samantha) Filley, of Windsor, Connecticut, while he worked in Hartford.  Their son, Frank Henry Greatorex, born in New York, New York, had a fine singing voice, as did his father.  Frank eventually settled in St. Augustine, Florida.  Frank never knew his mother, who died shortly after his death.  Henry married Eliza Pratt, a native of Ireland, as well as a Methodist preacher’s kid, in 1849.  Eliza was a capable and world-famous sketch artist.  She and our saint had three children–one son and two daughters.  The daughters became activists, too.  Eliza also had a fine contralto voice.

In 1851, Henry published A Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes, Chants, Anthems, and Sentences for the Use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America, and For Congregations of Other Denominations, as Well as for Societies and Schools.  This volume included an arrangement of the hymn tune SEYMOUR, as well as his original hymn tune MANOAH.  The Collection also included an arrangement of the Gloria Patri.  In all, thirty-seven compositions and arrangements in the Collection bore the initials “H. W. G.”

Robert Guy McCutchan (1877-1958), who valued good church music, held our saint’s Collection in high esteem.  McCutchan wrote:

This book passed through many editions and generally had a wholesome effect on church music, especially in the larger cities.

Our Hymnody:  A Manual of The Methodist Hymnal (1937), 396

Henry’s death left Eliza a widow.  She died in Paris, France, on February 9, 1897.  She was 87 years old.

Our saint’s high standard in church music and indicated his reverence.  It was a standard many church musicians would still do well to emulate.  In the Preface to the Collection, Henry wrote:

The Editor of this work trusts that the following pages will be found generally useful in the service of the church.  His aim has been to furnish good music, rather than light, frivolous melody–to restore, as nearly as practicable, the old standard tunes and chants to their original harmonies, while, in the selection of the new, he has endeavored to avoid vulgarity, or straining after effect.

–Quoted in Our Hymnody (1937), 396

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF OSCAR ROMERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SAN SALVADOR; AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR, 1980-1992

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF PAUL COURTIER, APOSTLE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

THE FEAST OF THOMAS ATTWOOD, “FATHER OF MODERN CHURCH MUSIC”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LEDDRA, BRITISH QUAKER MARTYR IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY, 1661

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Henry Wellington Greatorex)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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