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The Music of the English Parish Church


  • Page extent: 492 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 0.78 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521274579 | ISBN-10: 0521274575)

This book is the most thorough and extensive history of English parish church music ever published, covering the period from the late middle ages to the present day. Through the ages English parish churches have resounded to all manner of music, ranging from the rich choral polyphony of Henry VIII's or Victoria's reigns to the bare unaccompanied psalm tunes of the seventeenth century. Temperley has found in this neglected field a wealth of fascinating music, as well as a host of intellectual problems to intrigue the scholar. A recurring theme of the book is the conflict between two incompatible goals for Protestant parish church music: artistic performance and popular expression. Professor Temperley suggests that the Elizabethan metrical psalm tunes were survivors of a mode of popular music that preceded the familiar corpus of ballad tunes. Passed on by oral transmission through several generations of unregulated singing, these once lively tunes changed gradually into very slow, quavering chants. This later style, which came to be called 'the old way of singing', is fully described and explained here for the first time. Temperley guides the reader through the complex social, theological and aesthetic movements that played their part in the formation of the late Victorian ideal of the surpliced choir in every chancel, and he makes a fresh assessment of that old bugbear, the Victorian hymn tune. His findings show that the radical liturgical experiments of the last few years have not dislodged the Victorian model for the music of the English parish church.


Preface; 1. The significance of parish church music; 2. The Reformation era (1534–59); 3. The establishment of Anglicanism (1559–1644); 4. Commonwealth and restoration (1644–1700); 5. Urban parish church music (1660–1790); 6. Country psalmody (1685–1830); 7. Reform movements (1760–1830); 8. The rediscovery of tradition (1800–50); 9. The Victorian settlement (1850–1900); 10. The twentieth century; 11. Past and present; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.


'… Professor Temperley's book will be the cornerstone for a generation of study in its field.' The Times Literary Supplement

'This book is unprecedented in its comprehensive survey of a subject not previously traced by musicographers … a consistent and excellent book.' Music and Letters

'Nicholas Temperley has made a profound contribution to American music history by thoroughly documenting the history of Anglican parish church music, but the value of this book extends beyond such boundaries.' M. L. A. Notes

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