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Whitefield, George (16th December 1714-30th September 1770)

He was a minister, evangelist and founder of Methodism born at the Bell Inn, Gloucester, England, who studied at the Crypt School in Gloucester and entered Pembroke College, Oxford, at the lowest rank of servitor because he came from a poor background.  At Oxford he would serve some of the high ranked students to earn free tuition.

He became a member of the “Holy Club” there with Charles and John Wesley and after preaching the new faith he had discovered the Bishop of Gloucester ordained him at an earlier time than would be deemed usual.  Initially starting out as a preacher at the Crypt Church in Gloucester he moved to Savannah, Georgia, in 1738 for a year to become a parish priest.

After a disagreement with John Wesley they parted company and he concentrated more on the Calvanistic style of Methodism.  Three churches were named after him in England, two in London and one in Bristol and there would later be Whitefield’s Tabernacle, also in London.

Travelling back to Georgia he preached several revivals and in 1738 he established the Bethesda Orphanage, which still stands today.  In 1749 he spent several months preaching Calvanism daily to huge crowds in America after having returned there from England very quickly after his 1738 visit.   Benjamin Franklin was known to have attended one of his revivals and was so impressed that he became his publisher and friend.

He rarely read from prepared notes but it is known that he suffered from strabismus, which caused him to be cross-eyed, and his style of preaching is now said to have helped the way that sermons are now delivered.  Very highly thought of in many areas of the world, he visited America many times where it has been said that he was one of the most publicly recognised figures before George Washington and is buried in Massachusetts, visited Scotland 15 times, Ireland twice, and was also heard in The Netherlands, Bermuda and Gibraltar.

Not recognised as a hymn-writer or author it is known that he re-wrote Charles Wesley’s “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”.

He died near Boston, Massachusetts, in 1770 when he was 55 years old.

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