Page 103 - Parry Songs of Farewell
P. 103

During his years of apprenticeship in the 1860s and 1870s Charles Hubert Hastings Parry was no stranger to church music. As the son of a devout Anglo- Catholic and Ecclesiologist, Thomas Gambier Parry, he grew up to appreciate Anglican liturgical music and during his days as a student it was undoubtedly an important focus of his early creativity. Moreover, Eton College (where he studied with Sir George Elvey at St George’s Chapel Windsor), Oxford (where
he befriended John Stainer at Magdalen College), Winchester and Gloucester Cathedrals (where he became acquainted with S. S. Wesley), and Salisbury Cathedral (close to the residence of his childhood sweetheart and later wife, Maude Herbert of Wilton Place) were ecclesiastical environments which encouraged him to produce anthems and service music, some of which was published. Later his ‘Great’ Service in D major (1881-2), an isolated example of liturgical music from his first maturity, would be sung at both St Paul’s Cathedral (under Stainer) and Trinity College, Cambridge (under Stanford). Yet for much of his creative life, Parry wrote very little church music. ‘Hear my words, ye people’ was composed for the Salisbury Diocesan Choral Association in 1894; ‘I was glad’ (very much a pièce d’occasion) was commissioned for the coronation
of Edward VII in 1902 (and revised for the coronation of George V in 1911); and the much-neglected large-scale anthem ‘God is our hope’ was commissioned by Sir George Martin for the Festival of the Sons of the Clergy at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1913. In truth, Parry evinced little of the Christian conviction which, for example, Stanford possessed and which motivated the latter to compose so much service music and anthems for the Anglican liturgy, nor did Parry, for all his interest in the organ, ever occupy a professional position in church music as did Stainer, Stanford or Charles Wood. Nevertheless, Parry retained an interest in a cappella music as can be seen in the rich output of partsongs he produced, especially for Lionel Benson’s Magpie Minstrels.
In 1906 Walter Parratt, in his capacity as Master of the King’s Musick, asked if Parry would write a motet for a special memorial service at the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore on 22 January 1907 to mark the anniversary of
the death of Queen Victoria1. For this he turned to John Gibson Lockhart’s eschatological poem ‘There is an old belief’. In her catalogue (which appeared in abbreviated form in the third edition of Grove in 1928), Emily Daymond, Parry’s amanuensis, noted that ‘There is an old belief’ had been written for Frogmore ‘in a very different form’ and that three other motets, ‘My soul, there is a country’,
‘I know my soul hath power’ and ‘Never weather-beaten sail’ ‘had been written for some time before they were published’ and that Parry had played them over to her at Highnam Court (Parry’s family home near Gloucester) in September 19132.
1. ‘In Memoriam’, Musical Times, xlxiii (February 1907), 100.
2. Daymond, E., Catalogue of Compositions (published and unpublished) by C. Hubert H. Parry from 1862–1918 (the
Parry: Songs of Farewell 103
 handwritten and typescript forms survive at Shulbrede Priory (GB-ShP)).

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