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Gauntlett, Henry John (9th July 1805-21st February 1876)

He was a composer, organist, lawyer, author and organ designer born in Wellington, Shropshire, England, to a family where his father was a curate, his two sisters were musicians and his mother taught him the organ.  He later studied with the organist and composer Samuel Wesley.

He was asked to become the organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London by Thomas Attwood who had been a pupil of Mozart, but his father was against this as he thought that being a professional musician would face him with “too many temptations of the flesh.”  He therefore became a lawyer and worked in a practice with his brother in London.

He returned to playing the organ in 1827 and campaigned for changes in the design, which was initially frowned upon.

He was popular as a performer and handpicked by Mendelssohn to perform Elijah in the Birmingham Town Hall as well as him stating that he was “one of the most remarkable professors of the age”.

A prolific hymn writer, it has been claimed, although extremely doubtful,  that he was the author of around 10,000 hymns which meant he must have written on average three a day for thirty years.  The music he wrote for these hymns include the works known as “I Love to Hear the Story”, “Gauntlett”, “Triumph” , “Hawkhurst” and “Irby” which is used for “Once in Royal David’s City” and he was the writer of the words and music of his own version of “As Joseph Was A Walking”.

He was involved in all the important hymn collections that were published over a period of fifty years, was granted a Lambeth doctorate by the Archbishop of Canterbury and as has his portrait hanging in the Royal College of Organists.

Once in Royal David’s City recordings (Henry Gauntlett/Cecil Alexander)
The Bach Choir and members of The Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
London 417 898-2 (CD: O Come All Ye Faithful)
Organ – John Scott
Conductor – Sir David Willcocks

BBC Welsh Chorus
Nimbus NI5310 (CD: Celebration: Christmas Fanfares & Carols)
Conductor – John Hugh Thomas
Organ -Huw Tregelles WilliamsBlack Dyke Mills Band
Arranger – Sir David Willcocks

Cathedral Symphony Orchestra,
MHS 512240T
New York Vocal Consort and the American Boychoir
Conductor –  James Litton

Choir of Canterbury Cathedral
Conifer CDCF 160
Conductor – Dr. Allan Wicks
Organ – Michael Harris

Choir of Keble College
Priory PRCD 708 (CD: The Complete New English Hymnal, Vol. 8)
Conductor –  Gavin Plumley
Organ –  Mark Laflin

 Choir of St. Thomas Church
Pro Organo 7200 (CD: Christmas on Fifth Avenue)

Clare College Singers and Orchestra
EMI 69950 (CD: Carols from Clare)
Conductor – John Rutter

Arturo Delmoni and Nina Bodnar
JMR 18 (CD: A String Quartet Christmas, Volume 2)
Violin – Arturo Delmoni
Violin – Nina Bodnar

King’s College Choir, Cambridge
EMI 66241 (CD: Christmas Carols from King’s College, Cambridge)
Conductor – Sir David Willcocks

King’s College Choir, Cambridge
London 444 848 (CD: Noel- Christmas at King’s)
Conductor – Sir David Willcocks

Musicians of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
North Star NS0035 (CD: And The Angels Sing)