John Varley Roberts

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Born: 25 September 1841

Died: 9 February 1920


John Varley Roberts was born in Stanningley, near Leeds, Yorkshire, England, and became the organist at St. John’s Church, Farsley, at age 12. He received training at Christ Church, Oxford. He then held positions as organist at St. Bartholomew’s, Armley, and organist and choirmaster at the Halifax Parish Church. In 1882, he was appointed organist and magister choristarum at Magdalen College, Oxford, a position held until 1919. He was also organist at St. Giles’ Church, Oxford, and he founded the University Madrigal and Glee Club at Oxford. He taught harmony and counterpoint at Oxford and was degree examiner. He was also a local choral and philharmonic conductor. He authored “Practical Method of Training Choristers” and was editor of “Parish Church Chant Book.” His compositions include Psalm settings, hymn tunes, chants, numerous anthems, services, an oratorio, part-songs, songs, and organ voluntaries.
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List of choral works

Sacred works

  • The Lord, your God, is gracious
  • The Passion: a meditation on the sufferings of Christ (Novello, 1902) is scored for two solo voices (tenor and bass) and chorus SATB with hymns to be sung by the choir and congregation.


  • Lord, as to thy dear cross we flee (tune: Dundee)
  • Behold him in Gethsemane
  • Ride on, ride on in majesty
  • When I survey the wondrous cross (tune: Rockingham)
  • O wondrous work of God
  • O thou, from whom all goodness flows (tune: Windsor)
  • Jesu, lover of my soul
  • If I should e'er forsake thee (tune: Chorale Bach St Matthew Passion)
  • O Lord, thy love's unbounded (tune: as above)

Secular works

partsongs for Mixed Voices

partsongs for Male Voices

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External links