Born: 20 February 1775
Samuel Chapple was born on 20 February 1775 at Crediton, Devon, where his birth was recorded in the register of the Bowden Hill Presbyterian Church. Biographical details survive in the records of Crediton parish church, in John D. Sainsbury's A Dictionary of Musicians, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Time (Vol. I. London: Sainsbury & Co., 1824), and in a letter from Chapple to Sainsbury in response to a request for information for that book (Library of the University of Glasgow: MS Euing R.d.85/39), dated 28 December 1823.
At the age of 15 months, Chapple contracted smallpox, resulting in loss of sight. The vestry minute book of the Governors of Crediton (Devon Record Office: 1660A/A18) records that at a vestry meeting held on 17 October 1790 'It was agreed by the Majority present that Saml Chapple a poor Child being Blind shou'd be put an Apprentice to an Organist for ye term of three years'. A week previously (10 October 1790) the same minute book records a decision to apprentice one Thomas Westlake to an organist under similar circumstances.
Chapple was appointed organist of Ashburton in 1795, and held that post for the remainder of his life: in addition to three volumes of church music dedicated to the choir of Ashburton, his works include secular songs. He is listed among the subscribers to Charles William Hempel's A Morning and an Evening Service, published in 1821, and Bennett Mintern Swaffield's Twenty Five Original Melodies, published in 1822.
There is a set of music books from Ashburton Church contemporary with Samuel Chapple's time as organist (Devon Record Office: 2141A/PZ1-3). One of these (2141A/PZ1) consists of the printed Six Anthems in Score and A Second Sett, followed by MS music including anthems and psalm tunes from Chapple's A Third Set. Another Ashburton book (2141A/PZ2) includes two anthems ('Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous' and 'Praise the Lord, O my soul') from Six Anthems in Score, and two anthems ('Christ our Passover is sacrificed' and 'The Lord is King, the earth may be glad') from A Second Sett.
Chapple's music is widespread in other manuscripts of the period, particularly from south-west England; surviving examples from Devon include books from Otterton and Cruwys Morchard.
There are contemporary references to Chapple's music being used at Moretonhampstead: the journal of Silvester Treleaven of Moretonhampstead notes for 25 December 1814 'The morning was ushered in with a carol. The Church and Meeting Choir both singing the same tune. Words by the Rev Wm Carwithen Manaton, sat to Music by Mr Chapel Organist Ashburton.' Treleaven had previously noted (20 June 1802) a visit to Moretonhampstead by 'a Choir of Singers from Withecombe in the Moor', who 'performed several pieces of Music in a superior stile then country Choirs in general perform, they are under the tuition of a Mr. Cullender, Singing Master of Ivy Bridge who attended with them'. Mr. Cullender, singing master of Ivybridge, is listed among the subscribers to Chapple's Six Anthems in Score.
The anthem 'I'll wash my hands in innocency', from A Second Sett, occurs in the MS of Edward Taggart (1850s), associated with the Kerrowkeil Methodist Chapel in the south of the Isle of Man (Manx National Heritage Library: MNHL 15001).
View the Wikipedia article on Samuel Chapple.
List of choral works
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- Six Anthems in Score, London: Hen[r]y Lawson, [c1815]
- A Second Sett of Six Anthems, in Score, London: for the Author by Goulding, D'Almaine, Potter & Co. [c1815-1823]
- A Third Set of Six Anthems, with Twelve Psalm Tunes, London: Goulding, D'Almaine, Potter & Co. [c1815-1823]