A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Boyce, William

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BOYCE, William, Mus. Doc., was born at Joiners' Hall, Upper Thames Street (of which company his father, a cabinet maker, was beadle), in 1710. He became a chorister of St. Paul's Cathedral under Charles King, and, on quitting the choir, an articled pupil of Maurice Greene, then organist of the cathedral. On the expiration of his articles he obtained the situation of organist of Oxford Chapel, Vere Street, Cavendish Square, and pursued his studies under Dr. Pepusch. While yet a young man Boyce's hearing became much impaired, a calamity the greatest that can befal a musician, but which, in his case, did not lessen the ardour with which he pursued his studies. [App. p.560 "in 1734 he set Lord Lansdowne's masque of 'Peleus and Thetis.'"] In 1736 he gave up his appointment at Oxford Chapel upon obtaining the post of organist at St. Michael's, Cornhill, which had become vacant by the removal of Joseph Kelway to St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. On June 21 in the same year he was sworn into the place of Composer to the Chapel Royal in the room of John Weldon, then lately deceased. He most ably discharged the duties of this office by the composition of many fine anthems and services, several of which are still, and will long continue to be, in use 'in quires and places where they sing.' In 1737 he was appointed conductor of the meetings of the Three Choirs of Gloucester, Worcester, and Hereford, which office he held for several years. In 1740 [App. p.560 "1736"] he composed the music for John Lockman's oratorio 'David's Lamentation over Saul and Jonathan,' and had it performed at Covent Garden Theatre [App. p.560 "and it was given by the Apollo Society, and subsequently, in 1740, at Covent Garden Theatre"]. About the same time he set two odes for St. Cecilia's day, one written by Lockman, the other by the Rev. Mr. Vidal, undermaster of Westminster School. In 1743 he produced the serenata of 'Solomon,' written by Edward Moore, which was eminently successful, and one song in which ('Softly rise, southern breeze,' for tenor voice with bassoon obligato) retained its popularity for upwards of a century, and is still occasionally heard. In 1749, on the erection of an organ in the church of Allhallows the Great and Less, Thames Street, Boyce was chosen organist. In the same year he was selected to compose the music for the ode written by William Mason for the installation of Henry Pelham, Duke of Newcastle, as Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. The ode, with Boyce's music, was performed in the Senate House, July i, 1749, and on the following day, being Commencement Sunday, an anthem with orchestral accompaniments by Boyce, was performed in Great St. Mary's Church, as an exercise for the degree of Doctor of Music, which the University then conferred on him. Both these compositions were soon afterwards published together. In the same year Boyce appeared as a composer for the theatre by setting [App. p.560 "reviving (Dict. of Nat. Biog.)"] Lord Lansdowne's masque of 'Peleus and Thetis' (introduced into his lordship's alteration of 'The Merchant of Venice,' entitled 'The Jew of Venice') and Moses Mendez's musical entertainment, 'The Chaplet'; the latter of which met with great success. [App. p.560 "In 1749, when the Masque of Lethe was revived at Drury Lane, Blow wrote new songs for Beard."] In 1750 [App. p.560 "1751"] he set another piece of the same kind, also written by Mendez, called 'The Shepherd's Lottery.' On the death of Dr. Greene, in 1675 [App. p.560 "1755"], Dr. Boyce was appointed his successor as master of the king's band of music, and conductor of the annual festivals of the Sons of the Clergy at St. Paul's Cathedral. In the former capacity he was required to compose music for the new-year and birth-day odes of the poet-laureate; in the latter he voluntarily composed two fine anthems with orchestral accompaniments, besides additional accompaniments and choruses for Purcell's Te Deum and Jubilate, written for St. Cecilia's day, 1694. In 1758, on the death of John Travers, Boyce was appointed one of the organists of the Chapel Royal, upon which he resigned his places at St. Michael's, Cornhill, and Allhallows, Thames Street, and, his deafness still increasing, he gave up teaching, and removed to Kensington, where he employed himself principally in the collection and editing of the materials for the work by which he is best known—'Cathedral Music, being a collection in score of the most valuable and useful composisitions for that service by the several English masters of the last two hundred years.' This work was projected by Dr. Greene, who had commenced collections for it, but, finding his health failing, bequeathed all his materials to Dr. Boyce, with a request that he would complete the work. The 'Cathedral Music' was published in three volumes, the first of which appeared in 1760 and the last in 1778. This valuable publication, which redounds so much to the credit of its editor for diligence, judgment and scholarship, produced him little else than fame, its sale yielding but little beyond the expenses of production. [App. p.560 "Boyce's last theatrical work was Garrick's pantomime, 'Harlequin's Invasion,' 1759."] On Feb. 7, 1779, the gout, from which Boyce had long suffered, terminated the blameless life of this most amiable man and excellent musician. He was buried on February 16 with uncommon marks of respect, in the vault under the centre of the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral. In the year following his death his widow published a volume containing 'Fifteen Anthems and a Te Deum and Jubilate' of her husband's composition; and in 1790 another volume containing twelve anthems and a service was published, under the editorship of Dr. Philip Hayes. These anthems and services (with others, to the extent in all of forty-six anthems and five services) were afterwards published in four volumes under the editorship of Vincent Novello, In 1788 John Ashley, who had purchased the plates of the 'Cathedral Music,' issued a reprint of it, with a memoir (by Sir John Hawkins) and a portrait (finely engraved by Sherwin) of Boyce prefixed. In 1849 a new edition, with additional services and anthems and new lives of the composers was issued under the care of Joseph Warren. Besides the compositions above mentioned, Boyce produced the following:—Dryden's 'Secular Masque,' 1745; twelve sonatas for two violins and bass, 1747; a concerto; eight symphonies; 'Ode to Charity,' composed for the Leicester Infirmary, containing the duet for tenor and bass, 'Here shall soft Charity repair,' which long remained an indispensable part of the programme of every concert given in aid of a charity; Rev. Walter Harte's paraphrase of part of Pindar's first Pythian ode, 1749; Masque in 'The Tempest'; dirge in 'Cymbeline'; dirge in 'Romeo and Juliet'; trio in 'The Winter's Tale'; two odes in Home's tragedy, 'Agis,' 1758; [App. p.560 "'Noah', an oratorio;"] besides many songs which appeared in 'The British Orpheus,' 'The Vocal Musical Mask,' etc. A collection of Dr. Boyce's songs, duets, and cantatas, entitled 'Lyra Britannica,' appeared from time to time in several books. Boyce's only son long filled a respectable position in the best orchestras as a double-bass player.

The following are the contents of the Cathedral Music:—

Tallis, Preces, M. and E. Serv.
Morley, Burial Serv. G minor.
Farrant, M. and E. Serv. G minor.
Bevin, Do. D minor.
Gibbons, Do. F.
Child. Do. E minor.
Rogers, Do. D.
Blow. Do. A.
Aldrich. Do. G.
Blow. Do. G.
Do. Kyrie and Creed (triple measure) G.
14 Chants.

Henry VIII, Full Anth., O Lord the maker. 4 voices.
Tallis, F. A. I call and cry. 5 v.
Tye, F. A. I will exalt Thee. 4 v.
Do. (2nd pt.) Sing unto the Lord 4 v.
Farrant, F. A. Call to remembrance. 4 v.
Do. F. A. Hide not Thou. 4 v.
Bird, F. A. O Lord, turn. 5 v.
Do. F. A. (2nd pt.) Bow Thine ear, O Lord. 5 v.
Do. F. A. Sing joyfully. 6 v.
Gibbons, F. A. Hosanna. 6 v.
Do. F. A. Lift up your heads. 6 v.
Do. F. A. Almighty and everlasting 4 v.
Do. F. A. O clap your hands. 8 v.
Do. (2nd pt) God is gone up. 8 v.
Battten, F. A. Hear my prayer. 5 v.
Do. F. A. O praise the Lord. 4 v.
Do. F. A. Deliver us, O Lord. 4 v.
Child, F. A. Praise the Lord. 4 v.
Do. F. A. O Lord, grant the King. 4 v.
Do. F. A. Sing we merrily. 7 v.
Rogers, F. A. Behold now. 4 v.
Do. F. A. Teach me, O Lord 4 v.
Blow, V. A. God is our hope 8 v.
Do. V. A. O God, wherefore art Thou absent. 5 v.
Do. V. A. Save me, O God. 4 v.
Do. F. A. The Lord hear thee. 4 v.
Do. F. A. My God, my God. 4 v.
Aldrich, V. A. Out of the deep. 4 v.
Do. F. A. O give thanks. 6 v.
Creyghton, F. A. I will arise. 4 v.
Purcell, V. A. O God, Thou art. 4 v.
Do. V. A. O God, Thou hast. 6 v.
Do. V. A. O Lord God of Hosts. 8 v.
Goldwin, V. A. I have set God. 4 v.
Clarke. F. A. Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem. 4 v.
Croft, V. A. God is gone up. 4 v.
Do. V. A. Put me not to rebuke. 4 v.
Weldon, V. A. In Thee, O Lord. 4 v.
Do. V. A. Hear my crying. 6 v.
Lawes (Wm.), V. A. The Lord is my light. 4 v.
Lock, V. A. Lord let me know mine end. 6 v.
Humphreys, V. A. Have mercy upon me. 3 v.
Do. V. A. O Lord my God. 3 v.
Blow, V. A. I was In the Spirit. 4 v.
Wise. V. A. Prepare ye the way of the Lord. 4 v.
Do. V. A. Awake, put on thy strength. 3 v.
Purcell. V. A. Thy way, God. 4 v.
Do. V. A. Be merciful. 3 v.
Clarke, V. A. How long wilt Thou. 1 v.
Croft, V. A. O praise the Lord. 3 v.
Do. V. A. Give the King. 5 T.
5 Chants.

Bird, M. and E. Serv. D min.
Child, Do. D.
Blow. Do. E min.
Purcell. M. and E. Serv. (double), B flat.
Bull. V. A. Lord my God. 5 v.
Humphrey, V. A. Thou art my King. 4 v.
Do. V. A. Like as the hart. 4 v.
Do. V. A. Hear, O Heavens. 3 v.
Do. V. A. Rejoice in the Lord. 4 v.
Do. V. A. Haste Thee. O God. 4 v.
Wise, V. A. The ways of Zion. 2 v.
Do. V. A. Thy beauty, Israel. 4 v.
Do. V. A. Awake up, my glory. 3 v.
Do. V. A. Blessed is he. 3 v.
Blow, V. A. O Lord, I have sinned. 4 v.
Do. V. A. O sing unto God. 3 v.
Do. V. A. O Lord, Thou hast searched me out. 2 v.
Do. V. A. I beheld and lo! 4 v.
Turner, V. A. Lord, Thou hast been our refuge. 3 v.
Purcell, V. A. Behold, I bring you. 3 v.
Do. V, A. They that go down. 2 v.
Do. V. A. Thy word is a lantern. 3 v.
Do. V. A. O give thanks. 4 v.
Clarke, V. A. I will love Thee. 2 v.
Gibbons. Sanctus. 4 v. in F.
Child, Sanctus. 4 v. in E minor.
Rogers, Sanctus. 4 v. in D.
Creyghton, Sanctus. 4 v. in E flat.

[ W. H. H. ]