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Cummings, William Hayman (22nd August 1831-10th June 1915)

He was an organist, tenor, musician, composer and author born in Sidbury, Devon, England, who started his musical education as a chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral when he was seven and when he as 15 or 16 he sang at a performance of Elijah that was conducted by its composer, Felix Mendelssohn.

The quality of his voice brought him recognition and he would go on to sing throughout the United Kingdom as well as make appearances in America.

He became very interested in Mendelssohn’s work and while working as an organist in Waltham Abbey he adapted the second chorus from his Festgesang (Festival Song) and this would become the music for the version of  “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” that is used today.

Continuing his career in music he would become the founder of the Purcell Society in 1876 and held the position of Singing Professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London for fifteen years from 1879.  From 1879 he was Principal of the Guildhall School of Music and in 1900 Dublin University awarded him an honorary doctorate in music.

As an author he wrote works that included The Origin of “God Save The King” and books on the lives of Handel and Purcell.

He died in London when in 1915 when he was 83.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing recordings

BBC Welsh Chorus
Arranger – Sir David Willcocks
Conductor – John Hugh Thomas
Organist – Huw Tregelles Williams
Fanfare Trumpeters of the Welsh Guards
Musical Director – Lt. Col. P. Hannam, BEM

Black Dyke Mills Band
Chandos 4541 (CD: A Christmas Fantasy)

Boston Pops
Philips 416 287 – 2 (CD:  We Wish You a Merry Christmas)
Conductor – John Williams

DG 419 414-2 (CD: White Christmas)
Conductor – Arthur Fiedler

RCA 09026-61685-2 (CD: Pops Christmas Party)
Conductor – Arthur Fiedler

Sony SK 48232 (CD: Joy to the World)
Conductor – John Williams
Tanglewood Festival Chorus

Choir of St. John’s, Cambridge
London 421 022 (CD: Christmas Weekend -16 Favourite Carols)
Conductor – George Guest
Organ – Stephen Cleobury

Robert DeCormier Singers and Ensemble
Arabesque 6526 (A Victorian Christmas)
Conductor – Robert DeCormier

Kiri te Kanawa
TELDEC 99000 (CD: Christmas with Kiri te Kanawa) 
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Choir of Lichfield Cathedral
The Choir of Coventry Cathedral
Conductor – R. Stapleton
Soprano – Kiri te Kanawa
Baritone – Michael George
Trumpet – Jouko Harjanne

Kings College Choir Cambridge
London 444 848 (CD: Noel – Christmas at Kings)
Conductor – Sir David Willcocks

Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
Naxos 8.990005 (CD: Joy to the World)
Conductor – Richard Hayman

Rochester Pops Orchestra
Koch CHD 1531 (CD: Joy to the World – Carols for Orchestra and Chorus)

St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra
Sonari records – 7 55724 00272 3 (CD: Christmas with the Philharmonic)
Conductor – Robert Hart Baker

Robert Shaw Chorale 
RCA 6429 – 2 – RG (CD: A Festival of Carols)
(Arrangers – Robert Shaw/Alice Parker)

Dale Warland Singers and Ensemble
Gothic 49208 (CD: Christmas with the Dale Warland Singers)
Arranger– Carol Barnett