Studies in English Church Music, 1550-1900: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Studies in English Church Music, 1550-1900

1st Edition

By Nicholas Temperley


368 pages

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Nicholas Temperley has pioneered the history of popular church music in England, as expounded in his classic 1979 study, The Music of the English Parish Church; his Hymn Tune Index of 1998; and his magisterial articles in The New Grove. This volume brings together fourteen shorter essays from various journals and symposia, both British and American, that are often hard to find and may be less familiar to many scholars and students in the field. Here we have studies of how singing in church strayed from artistic control during its neglect in the 16th and 17th centuries, how the vernacular 'fuging tune' of West Gallery choirs grew up, and how individuals like Playford, Croft, Madan, and Stainer set about raising artistic standards. There are also assessments of the part played by charity in the improvement of church music, the effect of the English organ and the reasons why it never inspired anything resembling the German organ chorale, and the origins of congregational psalm chanting in late Georgian York. Whatever the topic, Temperley takes a fresh approach based on careful research, while refusing to adopt artistic or religious preconceptions.


’Read this book, even if you have to get it from the library and keep renewing it. It will inspire and inform you because there is so much to learn from it…’ West Gallery Newsletter ’… a model of scholarship that is at once focused and synoptic… it is good to have these essays […] available between two covers. Written between 1972 and 2006, they demonstrate just how tenacious Temperley’s interest in English church music has been throughout his career. It has been a remarkable career, and any book that makes the scholarship more widely available is greatly to be welcomed.’ Notes 'For readers without ready access to an academic library this collection is particularly useful, given the breadth of publications from which the essays are drawn.' Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part 1 Vernacular Church Music: 'If any of you be mery let him sing psalms': the culture of psalms in church and home; Middleburg psalms; John Playford and the metrical psalms; The old way of singing: its origins and development; The Anglican communion hymn; The origins of the fuging tune. Part 2 Artistic Church Music: Organs in English parish churches, 1660-1830; Organ music in parish churches, 1660-1730; Croft and the charity hymn; The hymn books of the Foundling and Magdalen Hospital chapels; The Lock Hospital chapel and its music; Jonathan Gray and church music in York, 1770-1840; Organ settings of English psalm tunes; Ancient and modern in the work of Sir John Stainer; Addenda and corrigenda; Index.

About the Author

Nicholas Temperley is Professor Emeritus of Musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General