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Seminar 10:
The Story of
The English Hymnal

The English Hymnal first appeared in 1906. A hundred years later it is interesting to look back on the circumstances of its publication and the factors that helped it to contribute to the raising of the standard of Anglican worship throughout much of the English-speaking world.

The success of The English Hymnal is largely due to the vision of two very different men: the literary editor (the Rev'd Percy Dearmer) and the musical editor (Dr Ralph Vaughan Williams). Dearmer wished to make 'a collection of the best hymns in the English language and to offer them as a humble companion to the Book of Comon Prayer for use in the Church.' Vaughan Williams, who wanted to produce 'a tune-book in which enervating tunes are reduced to a minimum,' went on to become one of the leading English composers of the 20th century.

The first appearance of The English Hymnal caused considerable controversy, as several bishops claimed that some of its hymns contravened Anglicn doctrine by making invocations to the Saints, and even forbade its use in their dioceses. The editors, however, steadfastly refused to remove these hymns, and apparently the altercation died down before very long.

During this seminar there will be an opportunity to hear recordings of two hymns from The English Hymnal with tunes by Vaughan Williams. These are sung by a choir and congregation at a concert given in Melbourne by the Tudor Choristers in June 2008 in memory of Vaughan Williams, who died in 1958.

Date Tuesday 21 July
Time 7.30 pm – 9.30 pm
Venue St Peter's, Eastern Hill
Cost $15 (concession: $12)
Conductor Dr John Willis
is a retired scientist with a longstanding interest in both sacred and secular music.

Authorized by the Vicar (
and the Institute for Spiritual Studies
Maintained by the Editor (
© 2009 The Institute for Spiritual Studies