Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Norris, William (1670?-1700?)

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NORRIS, WILLIAM (1670?–1700?), composer, was born about 1670. In 1685 he was the last in procession, and therefore the oldest, of the children of the Chapel Royal, present at the coronation of James II (Sandford). In September 1686 he was one of the junior or lay vicars of the choir of Lincoln Cathedral, on 28 Oct. he became poor clerk, and in 1690 was appointed master of the choristers on probation, his appointment, ‘magister choristarum in arte cantandi,’ being confirmed in 1691, while John Cutts taught the boys instrumental music, and Hecht was organist. In 1693 the responsible post of steward of the choristers was given to Norris. His name does not occur in the chapter rolls after 1700 (Maddison). He is said, however, to have been the composer of a St. Cecilia's Festival Ode performed in 1702. A correspondent of ‘The Harmonicon’ had seen the autograph manuscript, which was afterwards sold with the other contents of Benjamin Jacobs's library. No trace of it remains (Grove).

Some of Norris's compositions extant in manuscript are: 1. ‘Morning Service in G flat, for verses and chanting.’ 2. Anthem for solo and chorus, ‘Blessed are those that are undefiled,’ with ‘I will thank Thee,’ in Tudway's collection (Brit. Mus. Harl. MS. 7340). 3. Anthems ‘Sing, O Daughter of Sion,’ solo and chorus (Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 30932). 4. ‘My Heart rejoiceth in the Lord,’ in four parts (ib. 31444). 5. ‘I will give thanks,’ and ‘Hallelujah,’ soli and chorus, four voices on a ground. 6. ‘God sheweth me His goodness,’ in three parts (ib. 31445). 7. ‘In Jewry is God known,’ solo and chorus. 8. ‘Behold how good and joyful,’ in three parts (ib. 17840). Manuscript parts of several anthems and a setting of the ‘Cantate Domino’ by Norris are in Lincoln Cathedral library.

[Sandford's Hist. of the Coronation of James II and Queen Mary, p. 69; Grove's Dict. of Music, ii. 465; Husk's Musical Celebrations on St. Cecilia's Day, p. 51; Harmonicon, 1831, p. 290; the Rev. A. R. Maddison's Papers on Lincoln Cathedral Choir in Lincoln Arch. Soc.'s Reports, vols. xviii. and xx.]

L. M. M.