Charles Hubert Hastings Parry

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Born: 27 February 1848

Died: 7 October 1918



Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry was an English composer, probably best known for his setting of William Blake's poem, Jerusalem. Born in Bournemouth, Hampshire, and brought up at Highnam Court, Gloucestershire, he was the second son of Thomas Gambier Parry, of Highnam Court, Gloucester - an amateur artist. His grandfather was a director of the East India Company, and his grandmother was a member of a well-known naval family, which included Lord Gambier, the Admiral of the British fleet. Charles Hubert was educated at Malvern, Twyford, near Winchester, and then at Eton (from 1861), and then at Exeter College, Oxford. While still at Eton he wrote music and two anthems that were published in 1865. Parry wrote solo songs all his life, starting with several composed while he was 18 years old and still attending Eton. Later he wrote an Evening Service in D, and dedicated it to Sir John Stainer. He took the degree of Mus.B. at Oxford at the early age of eighteen, and later earned a B.A. in 1870.

He then left Oxford for London where in the following year he joined a young Eton friend working at Lloyds. Working this job for four years, in duty to his father's desire to not make music his career but his avocation, Charles Hubert was ultimately set free when the business suddenly failed. This failure allowed him to abandon the business for a career in Music, which he commensed by taking a Doctor of Music at Cambridge in 1883. Following this he and took a position at Oxford, suceeding Dr. Corfe in the position of Choragus, simultaneously being admitted to Oxford as a Doctor of Music ad eundem in 1884.


He studied successively with H. H. Pierson (at Stuttgart), Sterndale Bennett and Macfarren; but the most important part of his artistic development was with the pianist Edward Dannreuther in London. Among the larger works of this early period is an overture, Guillem de Cabestanh (Crystal Palace, 1879), a pianoforte concerto in F sharp minor, played by Dannreuther at the Crystal Palace and Richter concerts in 1880, and his first choral work: The Scenes from Prometheus Unbound, produced at the Gloucester Festival, 1880. These works, like the Symphony in G, given at the Birmingham Festival of 1882, seemed strange even to educated listeners, who were confused by the intricacy of Parry's treatment. It was not until his setting of James Shirley's 1640 ode, The Glories of our Blood and State, premiered at Gloucester in 1883, and the Partita for violin and pianoforte (published about the same time) that Parry's importance finally was realized by the musical public.


His first major works begin to appear in 1880: a piano concerto and a choral setting of scenes from Shelley's Prometheus Unbound. The first performance of the Prometheus has often been held to mark the start of a "renaissance" in English classical music. Parry achieved a greater contemporary success, however, with the ode Blest pair of Sirens (1887) which established him as the leading English choral composer of his day. Blest Pair of Sirens utilized lyrics from John Milton's Ode "At a Solemn Music", and was first performed at the inaugural concert in the newly-built "Albert Hall". The work is dedicated to C. V. Stanford and the Bach Choir. Among the most successful of a long series of similar works were the Ode on Saint Cecilia's Day (1889), the oratorios, Judith (1888) and Job (1892), the psalm-setting De Profundis (1891) and The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1905). His solo works composed in 12 sets of "English Lyrics" (published in 1885, 1886, 1895, 1896, 1902, 1903, 1907 and 1909, and posthumanously in 1918 and 1920). His early orchestral works include four symphonies, the Overture to an Unwritten Tragedy (1893), and the Elegy for Brahms (1897). After Parry joined the staff of the Royal College of Music in 1884 he was appointed its Director in 1894, a post he held until his death. In 1900 he succeeded John Stainer as professor of music at Oxford University. His later music included a series of six "ethical cantatas", experimental works in which he hoped to supersede the traditional oratorio and cantata forms. They were generally unsuccessful with the public, though Elgar admired The Vision of Life (1907) and The Soul's Ransom (1906) has had several modern performances. He finally was forced to resign his Oxford appointment on doctor's advice in 1908, and the last decade of his life produced some of his finest works, including the Symphonic Fantasia '1912' (also called Symphony No. 5), the Ode on the Nativity (1912), Jerusalem (1916) and the Songs of Farewell (1916 – 1918).

Influenced as a composer principally by Bach and Brahms, Parry evolved a powerful diatonic style which itself greatly influenced future English composers such as Elgar and Vaughan Williams. His own full development as a composer was almost certainly hampered by the immense amount of work he took on, but his energy and charisma, not to mention his abilities as a teacher and administrator, helped establish art music at the centre of English cultural life. He collaborated with the poet Robert Bridges, and was responsible for many books on music, including The Evolution of the Art of Music (1896), the third volume of the Oxford History of Music (1907) and a study of Bach (1909).

His six "Songs of Farewell" are the last works in his repertoire, and seem to be a reflection of his resignation to his terminal illness. The poignant words of Thomas Campion's poem "Never weather-beaten sail" which entreats us:

Than my wearied sprite now longs to fly out of my troubled breast:
O come quickly, sweetest Lord, and take my soul to rest.

which seems a fitting epithet to one of England's greatest choral composers.

View the Wikipedia article on Charles Hubert Hastings Parry.

List of works

Sacred works

Anglican chants

Hymns & carols (with words)

Hymn settings (without words)

Service Music

No works currently available

  • Communion, Morning, Evening Services in D (1869)
  • Coronation Te Deum (1911)
  • Evening Service in D (1881)
  • Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis / Evening Service in D (1897)
  • Magnificat in F (1897)
  • Te Deum and Benedictus in D (1868)
  • Thanksgiving Te Deum (1900)

Other sacred works

  • And all the earth shall own him
  • Beyond these voices there is peace (1908)
  • Blessed is he (1865)
  • De Profundis (1891), setting of Psalm 130, composed for Hereford Musical Festival:
  1. Prelude - Orchestra
  2. De profundis clamavi - 12 part Chorus
  3. Fiant aures tuae intendes - Soprano Solo
  4. Sustinuit anima mea in verbo- 12 part Chorus
  5. A custo dia mastutina - Soprano Solo
  6. Apud Dominum misericordia - 12 part Chorus
  7. Et ipse redimet Israel - 12 part Chorus* God is our hope (1913)
  • He delivered the poor - Soprano solo
  • Job (1892) - Oratorio
  • Judith or The Regeneration of Manasseh (1888) - Oratorio
  • King Saul (1894) - Oratorio
  1. Arise and sing - Soprano Aria
  • Long Since In Egypt's Plenteous Land
  • The love that casteth out fear (1904)
  • O Brother Man
  • O Day of Peace that Dimly Shines
  • O Lord, Thou hast cast us out - Cantata (1867)
  • Ode on the Nativity (1912):
  • When Christ was borne of Mary free (Harlean Manuscript) (1915)
  • Within the Manger

Secular works

Part songs

Solo songs & arias

Other secular works

Other Solo Works

  • The Bard of Dimbovitzia (1900)
  • England
  • Fear no more the heat o' the sun (William Shakespeare) (1906)
  • The Laird of Cockpen (Lady Nairn) (1906) published (1907)
  • Newfoundland (Sir Calvendish Boyle) - first setting (1904)
  • The river of life (Lord Pembroke) (1870)
  • The Soldier's Tent
  • Three Songs, Op. 12 (1873)
  1. The poet's song
  2. More fond than Cushat Dove (Thomas Ingoldsby)
  3. Music / when soft voices die (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
  • Von elder art (1900)

Other secular works, mostly not yet available

  • Agamemnon (Aeschylus) (1900)
  • Angel hosts, sweet love, befriend thee (Lord Francis Hervey) (1865)
  • The Archarnians (Aristophanes) (1914)
  • Autumn - (Thomas Hood) (1865-66)
  • La belle dame sans merci (John Keats) (1914-1915, published 1979)
  • The best school of all (Henry Newbolt) (1908)
  • The Birds - Music to accompany the Greek Play by Aristophanes - (1883) - Cambridge
  • The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses (1885)
  • Come join the merry chorus (Horace Smith) (1915)
  • Eton (Algernon Charles Swinburne) (1891)
  • Eton Memorial Ode (1908)
  • The Feather (Walter de la Mare)
  • The Four Brothers (Walter de la Mare)
  • Four sonnets of Shakespeare (1887):
  1. When In Disgrace With Fortune / And Men’s Eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state
  2. Farewell, Thou Art Too Dear / For My Possessing, and like enough thou know’st thy estimate
  3. Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate
  4. When To The Sessions Of Sweet Silent Thought, / I summon up remembrance of things past
  • Four unison songs (1909):
  1. The Owl (Lord Alfred Tennyson)
  2. A contented mind (James Joseph Sylvester)
  3. Sorrow and song (Hedderwick)
  4. The mistletoe (Father Prout)
  • A Garland of Shakespearian and Other Old Fashioned Songs, Opus 21 (1873)
  1. Love's Perjuries / On a Day, Alack the Day (William Shakespeare)
  2. A Spring Song, Op. 21 no.2
  3. A Contrast / The merry Bird Sits in the Tree (Anonymous)
  4. Love is a Sickness
  5. A Sea Dirge / Full Fathom Five (William Shakespeare)
  6. Merry Margaret (Skelton)
  • A Hymn for Aviators (Mary C. D. Hamilton) (1915)
  • I praise the tender flower (Robert Seymour Bridges)
  • Invocation to music - An Ode in Honour of Henry Purcell (Robert Seymour Bridges
  1. Intro. Myriad Voiced Queen!: Moderato/Turn, O Return!: Allegretto Tranquillo
  2. Thee, Fair Poetry Oft Hath Sought: Allegretto Tranquillo
  3. The Monstrous Sea: Maestoso Energico
  4. Love To Love Calleth: Andante Appassionato
  5. Dirge. To Me, To Me, Fair-Hearted Goddess, Come
  6. Man, Born Of Desire: Moderato/Rejoice, Ye Dead, Where'er Your Spirits Dwell
  7. O Enter With Me The Gates Of Delight: Allegro Vivace
  8. Chor: 'Thou, O Queen Of Sinless Grace': Allegro Vivo
  • Land to the leeward ho (Margaret Preston) (1895)
  • The North Wind (William Ernest Henley)
  • Ode on Saint Cecilia's Day (1889) (Alexander Pope):
  1. Prelude - Organ
  2. Descend, ye Nine!
  3. By Music
  4. But when our country's cause - Chorus
  5. But when through all the infernal bounds - Soprano Solo
  6. By the streams that ever flow - Chorus
  7. He sang, and Hell consented - Baritone Solo
  8. But soon, too soon - Soprano Solo
  9. Music the fiercet grief can charm - Baritone Solo and Chorus
  • Ode to Music (1901)
  • Oft in the Stilly Night (Thomas Moore) (1866)
  • Promethius Unbound (Percy Bysshe Shelley) (1880)
  • Proud Maisie (Sir Walter Scott)
  • The river of life (Lord Pembroke) (1870)
  • Rock-a-bye (Children's souvenir song book) (1893)
  • School Songs (1911):
  1. The way to succeed (N. Macleod)
  2. Hie away (Sir Walter Scott)
  3. Dreams (C.F. Alexander)
  • School Songs (1914):
  1. The fairies (A. M. Champneys)
  2. The Brown Burns of the Border (W. H. Ogilvie)
  3. Dreams (C.F. Alexander)
  • Seven Part Songs for Male-Voice Choir (1910), scored ATB:
  1. Hang Fear, Cast Away Care (Parry)
  2. Love Wakes and Weeps (Scott)
  3. The Mad Dog (Goldsmith)
  4. That Very Wise Man, Old Aesop (Charles Dickens)
  5. Orpheus (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
  6. Out upon it! (Sir John Suckling)
  7. An analogy (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
  • Six Ethical Cantatas, Op. 12 (1906-07):
  1. War and peace (1903)
  2. Voces Clamantium (1903)
  3. The Love that Casteth Out Fear (1904)
  4. The Soul's Ransom (1906)
  5. The Vision of Life (1907)
  6. Beyond These Voices There Is Peace (1908)
  • Six Lyrics from an Elizabethan Song Book (1897):
  1. Follow Your Saint (Thomas Campion)
  2. Love is a sickness
  3. Turn All Thy Thoughts to Eyes (Thomas Campion)
  4. Whether Men Do Laugh or Weep (From an Elizabethan Song Book)
  5. The sea hath many a thousand sands
  6. Tell Me, O Love (From an Elizabethan Song Book)
  • Six Part Songs (1909):
  1. In a Harbour Grene (R. Wever)
  2. Sweet day, so cool
  3. Sorrow and Pain (Lady C. Elliot)
  4. Wrong Not, Sweet Empress (Sir Walter Raleigh)
  5. Prithee, Why ? (Sir John Suckling)
  6. My delight and thy delight
  • The Soldier's Tent (Alma Strettell) (1900, published 1901) (after Volkslieder, from 'The Bard of Dimbovitza')
  • Song of Darkness and Light - Ode (1898)
  • Sonnet XXIX (William Shakespeare)
  • The Soul's Ransome (1906)
  • The Spring of the Year
  • Tell me Where is Fancy Bred ? (William Shakespeare) (1864)
  • Three Odes of Anacreon (1868–1878) (Translated by T. Moore)
  1. Away, away, you men of rules
  2. Fill me boy, as deep as a draught
  3. Golden hues of life are fled
  • Three School Songs (1918)
  1. Neptune's empire (Thomas Campion)
  2. The wind and the leaves
  3. Song of the nights (Barry Cornwall)
  • Three Songs for Kookoorookoo (1916)
  1. Brown and furry (Christina Georgina Rossetti)
  2. The Peacock has a score of eyes (Christina Georgina Rossetti)
  3. The wind hath such a rainy sound (Christina Rossetti)
  • Three Trios for Female Voices (1875)
  1. To night (Hamilton Aide)
  2. To Diana
  3. Take, O take these lips away (Shakespeare)

Three Unison Songs (1913)

  1. You'll get there ('The Trent Otter')
  2. Goodnight (A. M. Champneys)
  3. Ripple On (A. M. Champneys)
  • Twilight (Lord Pembroke) (1874)
  • The Vision of Life (1907)* Fair Daffodils (Robert Herrick) (1866)
  • Von edler Art (From a Nuremberg Song Book, 1549) (Translated by Paul England) (1900)
  • War and Peace (1903)
  • Weathers (Thomas Hardy)
  • When the morning stars together their glory sang
  • Why does the azure deck the sky (Moore) (1866)

Other works not listed above (See Template:CheckMissing for possible reasons and solutions)

Click here to search for this composer on CPDL

Publications by Parry

Publications about Parry

  • C. Hubert H. Parry - His Life and Music, Jeremy Dibble, Clarendon Press 1992, Oxford England ISBN 0-19-816702-4
  • Parry before Jerusalem - Studies of his life and music - Bernard Benoliel, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., Aldershot, Hampshire


External links