Reading, John (d.1692) (DNB00)

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READING, JOHN (d. 1692), musician, may have been related to John Reading (1588–1667) [q. v.] The latter had a son John, but he cannot be identified with the musician. In 1667 the musician was at Lincoln Cathedral, where he was appointed junior vicar-choral on 10 Oct. and poor vicar on 28 Nov. On 7 June 1670 he became master of the choristers. In 1675 he was appointed organist of Winchester Cathedral; this he relinquished in 1681, when he succeeded ‘Geffrys’ as organist of Winchester College. The salary was, during his tenure of the latter office, raised from 5l. to 50l. He died in 1692, and was, it is believed, buried in the cloisters at Winchester.

Reading composed an anthem on Psalm xxv. (Divine Harmony, 1712), but his chief claim to remembrance lies in the tradition which makes him the composer of the Winchester College song ‘Dulce Domum.’ The Latin graces, sung before and after meat at the college elections, are also ascribed to him. They were all first printed by Dr. Philip Hayes [q. v.] in ‘Harmonia Wiccamica’ (1777), and subsequently republished by Gilbert Heathcote as ‘Harmonia Wykehamica’ (1811). There are also fragments of ecclesiastical music by Reading at the end of Jebb's ‘Choral Responses and Litanies of the English Church.’

Two other contemporary musicians bore the same names, one being organist of Chichester Cathedral from 1674 to 1720, and the other a singer or actor at Drury Lane Theatre, who was concerned in a riot in 1695 and fined twenty marks. Music by John Reading figures in Playford's ‘Division Violin’ (2nd edit. 1685), and in the ‘Pleasant Musical Companion (1701), but it is not quite certain to which John Reading it should be ascribed.

To a later generation belongs John Reading (1677–1764), organist, possibly a relative of earlier musicians of the name, or of Miss Reading, who sang in Addison's ‘Rosamond’ when it was produced with Clayton's feeble music in 1707. John Reading states that he was educated in the Chapel Royal under Dr. Blow. In 1700 he was made organist of Dulwich College, which he left in 1702 for Lincoln Cathedral. Here he obtained successively the posts of junior vicar-choral, poor vicar, and master of the choristers. In 1707 he returned to London. On 1 Dec. of that year, while passing the house of his friend Jeremiah Clarke [q. v.] he heard a pistol-shot, and, entering, found that the unfortunate organist had committed suicide (Athenæum, 2 April 1887). Reading's first post in London was that of organist at St. John's, Hackney; while there he published two ambitious works, ‘A Book of New Songs (after the Italian manner) with Symphonies,’ &c. and a ‘Book of New Anthems’ (1742). In the preface to the songs, he declares his admiration for Italian music, which he had tried to imitate with considerable success; the ‘Symphonies’ are, however, of inordinate length, even for their period. They appeared before 1724, as they are included in the catalogue of Sion College Library; the librarian there from 1708 to 1744 was William Reading [q. v.], who was probably a relative. Reading subsequently became organist of St. Dunstan-in-the-West, then of the united parishes of St. Mary Woolchurchaw, Lombard Street, and St. Mary Woolnoth. He died on 2 Sept. 1764. John Stanley [q. v.], the blind organist, was one of his pupils.

Reading is said to have composed a tune which was adopted by the Portuguese embassy, whence it obtained the name of the ‘Portuguese Hymn;’ it is still familiar as ‘Adeste fideles,’ and is constantly sung at Christmas to the English adaptation ‘O come, all ye faithful’ (Burney, Hist. of Music, iii. 597, iv. 203; Hawkins, Hist. of the Science and Practice of Music, c. 164 n.; Gent. Mag. 1764, p. 450; Chappell, Popular Music of the Olden Time, p. 577; Grove, Dict. of Music and Musicians, iii. 79).

[Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time, 1855, vol. ii.; Kirby's Annals of Winchester College, p. 59, where John Bishop's Jam lucis orto sidere is assigned to Reading; Husk's Account of the Musical Celebrations on St. Cecilia's Day, p. 29; Grove's Dict. of Music and Musicians, iii. 79.]

H. D.