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Reviewed by:
  • Studies in English Church Music, 1550–1900
  • Julian Onderdonk
Studies in English Church Music, 1550–1900. By Nicholas Temperley. (Variorum Collected Studies Series, CS926.) Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2009. [x, 356 p. ISBN 9780754659983. $134.95.] Music examples, illustrations, index.

Nicholas Temperley will be familiar to all who have a sneaking affection for neglected British music. Almost singlehandedly, his work on early nineteenth-century keyboard music, and on Victorian opera and concert music in particular, has made this once unfashionable repertory a source of growing research by British and American scholars. (From 2003 to 2006, he was the first president of the North American British Music Studies Association (NABMSA), a thriving organization that is raising the profile of British music studies worldwide.) His interest in the byways of British music reached an early peak with the landmark publication The Music of the English Parish Church (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979; reprinted 2005). This work focused not on the great cathedral repertory, long the subject of study by British musicologists, but on the neglected music of the English parish church. Psalm and hymn tunes, Anglican chants, choral anthems, organ voluntaries, fuguing tunes—these and related genres were given extensive treatment, their relationship to the Anglican liturgy, formal parallels with art music, and stylistic evolution over time carefully plumbed and described. Indeed, one of the distinguishing features of the book was the way that Temperley—a former editor of the Journal of the American Musicological Society and author of books on Haydn and Chopin, among others—brought the analytical techniques and research skills of mainstream musicology to bear on this "humble" repertory. Statistical, bibliographical, contextual, and stylistic analysis, as well as an unusually detailed focus on performance practice, brought to vivid life the role played by music in the everyday worship of generations of ordinary English men and women.

Similar virtues inform this new publication, which covers some of the same ground as The Music of the English Parish Church but in greater detail. A new title in Ashgate's Variorum Collected Studies Series, Studies in English Church Music comprises fourteen essays reprinted from journal articles and specialized book chapters that Temperley has published over the years. It therefore goes into more detail than the earlier survey often could—while covering fewer subjects, of course. Topics touched on briefly in the 1979 book—the Middleburg Psalms, the Anglican communion hymn, the late church music of Sir John Stainer—are here treated in depth, as the author takes us into the archives, explains the larger historical forces impacting specific developments, and shows us his thought-process in the face of ambiguous evidence for reaching the conclusions he does. The essay on the rise in the mid- to late eighteenth century of the Foundling and Magdalen Hospital charities and their hymnbook collections, relatively scanted in the earlier book, is exemplary. It begins with a consideration of the social and intellectual currents prompting the newfound interest in charity organizations at that time, offers a thumbnail history of the Foundling Hospital, proceeds to the dating of the hospital hymnbook collection (consulting bills of sale, publisher's engraving plates, and related archival material, Temperley convincingly proposes a new date for its first edition), then to a detailed discussion of the music of the collection and of its changing contents in later editions. Here, alterations in repertory and style over time are related to changes in musical personnel, adjustments in the [End Page 110] Charity's marketing strategies, and of course changes in musical taste. The focus then shifts to the Magdalen Hospital and its hymnbooks, where an equally thorough contextual, bibliographical, and stylistic examination points up similarities to but also crucial differences from the Foundling Hospital collection, notably in evangelical tone. The comparison, itself made meaningful by the virtuosic marshaling of various categories of data, sheds light on the many pressures—social, economic, musical, spiritual—affecting eighteenth-century religious life.

This level of detail also illuminates topics that were accorded considerable space in The Music of the English Parish Church. John Playford's role in reviving congregational psalmody after the Restoration, the origins of the eighteenth-century Anglican fuguing tune (before its journey to America...


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