Music Manuscripts: Series 9: Part 1: St. George’s Chapel, Windsor: Music Manuscripts from the Great English Collections
About this Collection
Introduction; MusicManuscripts from the Great English Collections: Series 9: Music Manuscriptsfrom Chapel and Cathedral Libraries: Part 1
Publishers Note: TheMusic Collection of St. Georges Chapel, Windsor
Series Nine of the programme Music Manuscripts from the Great English Collections offers TheMusic Manuscripts of Chapel and Cathedral Libraries. The first part of thisseries offers one of the richest collections of church music in England, fromthe Chapter Library of St. Georges Chapel, Windsor.
St. Georges Chapel has served the Royal Household atWindsor for over six centuries, and has provided through its music a long anddistinguished record of Anglican worship. The famous Old Hall manuscriptoriginally belonged to the Chapel, and Merbecke, Nathaniel Giles and John Mundywere among the musicians connected with the Chapel before the Commonwealth.Unfortunately, the fruits of this period were lost with the dispersal of theestablishment in 1643, and only three part-books (for works by Woodson, Tallis,William Mundy, Hooper, White, Child and Parsons) survive.
One of the main duties of William Child, on returning in1660 to his pre-Commonwealth post of organist, would have been to recreate arepertoire of services and anthems for use in the Chapel. Besides containingworks by the great Tudor and Early Stuart composers, perhaps made from bookshidden during the Commonwealth period, the part-books copied between 1660 andthe mid-19th century (when printed music became predominant) are an importantsource for the works of particular composers, and for tracing stylisticdevelopments in English sacred music during this period.
Composers directly connected with St. Georges Chapel, aschoristers, lay-clerks or organists, include William Child, Benjamin Rogers,Thomas Tudway (whose father had copied several of the earliest post-Restorationpart-books), Theodore Aylward and James Adcock. The collection also providescontemporary sources for a substantial number of services and anthems by otherleading composers of the period, from Pelham Humfrey, John Blow and HenryPurcell to Greene, Boyce, Nares and Croft. The inclusion of arrangements ofworks by the leading Continental composers enhances the interest of thecollection as an indication of changing musical tastes from the Restoration tothe reign of Queen Victoria.
The collection consists of 51 volumes of mens part-books,24 volumes of organ parts, including an important sequence of 18th centuryaccompaniments, 12 treble books, and several miscellaneous manuscripts.Together they form an essential record of the music used for worship at one ofthe most important foundations in the land, and they will provide many newopportunities for research into the works of particular composers, and changingtastes in repertoire and performance practice throughout the period.
The manuscript volumes are filmed in numerical orderthroughout. One recurrent feature in the collection is volumes which reverse:Anthems start at one end of the volume and Services at the other. These arefilmed as they would have been used, so that Anthems are followed by Servicesin their correct sequence.
The guide gives an introduction with the full contents ofreels for the collection and is followed by the Descriptive Catalogue of theMusic Manuscripts of St. Georges Chapel, Windsor (Oxley and Son (Windsor)Ltd. 1973). This is a detailed catalogue of the collection which consists of analphabetical index of composers names with their works listed alphabeticallyand a description of the manuscript volumes, grouped together, where relevant,in their sets.
We are indebted to Canon John White, Precentor of St.Georges Chapel, Major General R.L.C. Dixon, the Chapter Clerk and Mrs.Priscilla Manley, Librarian of the Chapter Library for their permission to filmthis outstanding collection and their help and advice in its execution. We arealso extremely grateful to them for their kind permission to use the CliffordMould Catalogue of Manuscripts as a guide to the microfilm collection.
The manuscript music extant in the St. Georges ChapelChapter Library is only the tip of a fairly large iceberg much of which has,alas, melted away during the last three centuries. The musical heritage of thisRoyal Chapel stretches back over six centuries, and the present choralestablishment is the proud heir of one of the most unchanged traditions in theland, that of providing a musical offering daily to Almighty God in buildingsof incomparable architectural beauty. It is true that Anglican worship hassuffered great changes through the centuries, but todays congregation enjoys avaried diet of musical styles and periods, from plainchant and medievalpolyphony originally composed for the Roman rite, through the secular style ofthe Restoration composers, to the stolid fare of Boyce and his late eighteenthcentury contemporaries. Forgotten Victorian pieces are even enjoying a revival,and modern composers such as Benjamin Britten have written music specially forthe present day Windsor choir.
From the earliest days of the Windsor establishment we haveonly fragments from an Antiphoner (see Appendix I). It is not surprising thatlittle survives from the period 1350 - 1450, because it was the establishedpractice of the time for the whole singing group to gather round one largebook, and it seems likely that many of the plainsong tunes would have beencommitted to memory. The proliferation of musical part books came later.
The inventory of 1385 mentions a roll of polyphonic music,which was a legacy of John Alleyn, a canon who died in 1373: Item unus rotulusde cantu music ex legato Johannis Alleyn.1
In 1416 fifteen skins of vellum were purchased by theChapter pro uno libro vocato Organboke2
One of the richest sources of medieval polyphony is to befound in the so called Old Hall Manuscript, preserved at St. EdmundsCollege, Ware, but which originally was a book of the Royal Household andbelonged to St. Georges Chapel. Various Windsor musicians contributed piecesto the choirbook, including Nicholas Sturgeon and Thomas Danett, both of whomwere canons in the mid-fifteenth century.
At Edward IVs request the Pope issued a Bull abolishingEton, and in 1465 the Provost was forced to hand over to St. Georges all theCollege Chapel furnishings and books. Although these were returned in 1476, itseems likely that they would have been used and probably copied from during theeleven years that they were at Windsor.
John Merbeck, who seems to have become a lay clerk atWindsor by 1531, was paid 5s. in 1564 for pricking songs this quarter,3and there are several entries in the Precentors Accounts for copying, revisingand repairing the music books, for which Merbeck was paid various sums. One ofthe books he repaired was a Collectar, or book of Collects, which appears to bethe one named in the inventory of 1385. So the book would have been in use for180 years until 1557 when John Somer (Canon 1554-73) ordered it to be repaired.
These examples, tantalizing as they are, serve to show whata vast corpus of material must have perished. By the end of the sixteenthcentury, called by scholars of a previous generation The Golden Age, themusic of the great Elizabethan composers, Byrd, Tallis and others would have addedto the repertoire. The musical establishment contained instrumentalists as wellas singers, and the choir earned the plaudits of Frederick, Duke of Wrtembergwho visited Windsor on Sunday, 20th August, 1592. Of the morning service in theChapel he wrote the music, especially the organ, was exquisitely played, forat times you could hear the sound of cornetts, flutes, then fifes and otherinstruments and there was likewise a little boy who sang so sweetly amongst itall, and threw such a charm over the music with his little tongue, that it wasreally wonderful to listen to him.4 This was in the days whenNathaniel Giles and John Mundy were jointly running the music at Windsor.
All this music and the establishment was dispersed withparticular thoroughness at the time of the Commonwealth, as Windsor was one ofthe Kings principal households. In 1643 the Dean and Canons, and of course thechoir and organists were expelled, and Child retired to the country. It is fromthe last years of Charles Is reign that the earliest extant part books in thecollection survive.
At the return of the Royal establishment in 1660 there musthave been great activity, and one matter of paramount importance was thegathering together of music, copying and composing. Child was greatly helped byThomas Tudway senior, the father of the Tudway who compiled the Harlean MSS.Dr. Morehen has shown that Tudway Sr. copied music for Christ Church Oxford,Pembroke College, Cambridge and St. Georges Chapel Windsor all at the sametime (after 1662).
From this time onwards there is extant a fairlyrepresentative sample of the various sets of part books which were prepared forthe choir, up until about 1840 when printed music really began to take over.Few of the mens sets are complete, and only twelve of the boys books havesurvived their heavy use. In all there are fifty two individual mens partbooks, surviving from nine known sets. Perhaps some of the most interestingmaterial for future study is to be found in the large provenance of lateseventeenth and eighteenth century organ books, vols. 52-75.
It is sincerely hoped that this catalogue will do a littleto help the student of English Church Music to discover more sources andevidence required in future research.
The catalogue is in two parts the second or which comprisesa description of the manuscript volumes grouped together, where relevant, intheir sets. Originally a detailed annotated index of each volume was prepared,or in the case of sets of part books, the titles were set out and all therelevant page numbers and notes were tabulated. This took up a great deal ofspace, and a shortened version was therefore prepared and appears here. A Xeroxcopy of the original more detailed work is in the Chapter Library.
The bulk of the information is presented as an alphabeticalindex of composers names, with their works listed alphabetically, beginningwith services and continuing with anthems and motets. Most of the pieces appearin several volumes, and each appearance is referred to numerically, beginningwith the volume number, with the page number after it, e.g. 5.48 means volumeno. 5 at page 48. There are many volumes which contain both services andanthems, and the usual practice of copyists was to begin the anthems at one endand the services at the other, working towards the middle. In the index it isassumed that if the piece is a service then the reader would look up the piecein the services end of the book. However, if a piece is referred to out of context,or actually appears in the wrong end of the book, then a small a or ssuffixes the reference number. e.g. 5.48a means that the piece is to be foundon p.48 starting at the anthems end of volume no. 5.
There are quite a number of printed music books housed inthe Chapter Library alongside the musical MSS. It was thought justifiable toinclude the list of these together with the musical MSS, rather than with thegeneral catalogue of early printed books.5 (see Appendix III)
I have included in Appendix II brief musical incipits ofthose pieces which have not been definitely ascribed, in the hope that this mayfacilitate their identification.
My thanks are due to Mr. Maurice Bond who has steered thisCatalogue through from the outset, and without whose expert guidance it wouldnot have been possible to undertake its compilation. I should also like tothank Mrs. Shelagh Bond and Dr. John Morehen for their valuable assistance, andDr. Anthea Baird of the London University Library who kindly gave the books atemporary home in London so that useful comparisons could be made with thelarge photostat collection of Cathedral music there.
Finally I wish to thank my wife Jane for typing my ownmanuscript and card index.
Note by the GeneralEditor
The original musical manuscripts and printed books listed inthis volume are preserved in the Chapter Library, St. Georges Chapel, WindsorCastle. Requests for permission to inspect them should be made to the Librarianof St. Georges Chapel.
All other manuscripts belonging to St. Georges Chapel arepreserved in the Aerary of Muniment Room of the Chapel. Amongst thesemanuscripts is a series of Attendance Books for 1762 to date in which theservices and anthems sung each day are recorded. Requests for permission toinspect these or other records of the Chapel should be addressed to theHonorary Archivist, The Aerary, Deans Cloister, Windsor Castle.