150th Anniversary of Ralph Vaughan Williams

On Sunday 9th October we held an evening service to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ralph Vaughan Williams who was born on 12th October 1872. Vaughan Williams was the music editor of the original English Hymnal, first published in 1906. He, together with the general editor, the Rev Percy Dearmer, sought to produce a hymn book suitable for the Anglican church which would replace many over-sentimental Victorian hymns with tunes more suited to the worship of God.

To this end Vaughan Williams wrote a number of tunes himself which are still very popular, including Down Ampney (set to the words: Come Down, O Love Divine) and Sine Nomine (For All the Saints). He also adapted a number of English Folk Songs for liturgical use, rather in the way in which J. S. Bach had taken well-known beer-hall ballad tunes in the eighteenth century and adapted them as Chorales for the Lutheran Church.

During the service there was an opportunity for the congregation to sing selected verses from many of these hymns, interspersed with anthems sung by the choir and an organ voluntary, all either composed or tunes somehow associated with Vaughan Williams. The programme was: