Monk, William Henry (DNB00)

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MONK, WILLIAM HENRY (1823–1889), composer, son of William Monk, of an old Oxford family, was born in Brompton, London, on 16 March 1823. After studying music under Thomas Adams, J. A. Hamilton, and G. A. Griesbach, he was organist and choir-master successively of Eaton Chapel, Pimlico (1841–3), St. George's Chapel, Albemarle Street (1843–5), and Portman Chapel, Marylebone (1845–7). In 1847 he was appointed choirmaster, in 1849 organist, and in 1874 (in succession to John Hullah, with whose work of 'Popular Musical Education' he was early associated) professor of vocal music at King's College, London. In 1851 he became professor of music at the School for the Indigent Blind, and in 1853 was appointed to his last post of organist at St. Matthias', Stoke Newington, where he established a daily choral service, with a voluntary choir. He was also professor in the National Training School for Music (1876), and in Bedford College, London (1878). From 1850 to 1854 he gave lectures on music at the London Institution, and at other times lectured at the Philosophical Institution, Edinburgh, and the Royal Institution, Manchester. In 1882 he received the honorary degree of Mus. Doc. from Durham University. He died in London on 1 March 1889, and was buried in Highgate cemetery, where a memorial cross, erected by public subscription, marks his grave.

Monk was best known as the musical editor of 'Hymns Ancient and Modern,' which has passed through several editions since its first issue in 1861, and has had a sale of about thirty million copies. He had no share in the profits of the work. He was sole musical editor of the first edition (the statement in Grove that he was 'one of the editors' is calculated to mislead), and only when an enlarged edition was called for did he have assistance. He had just sent to press the edition of 1889 when he died. His best hymn tunes, by which he will be remembered, were written for 'Hymns Ancient and Modern,' but many appear in other collections. A few are sung everywhere, and 'Abide with me' and 'Sweet Saviour, bless us ere we go' (the words of which are by Lyte and Faber respectively) are not likely to be superseded. He was musical editor of the 'Parish Choir' from the fortieth number (not the tenth, as stated in Grove) to its close in 1851. He also edited for the church of Scotland their Psalter, Hymnal, and Anthem Book, the tunes to Bishop Wordsworth's 'Hymns for the Holy Year,' 1865, an edition of Dr. Allon's 'Congregational Psalmist,' 'The Book of Common Prayer, with Plain Song and Appropriate Music,' and editions of Handel's 'Acis and Galatea,' fol., and 'L' Allegro,' 8vo. He composed a good deal of miscellaneous church music, mostly of an intentionally simple nature, such as anthems, chants, Te Deums, &c., some of which is widely used. He was essentially a church musician, and used the organ more for devotion than for display.

[Grove's Dict. of Music, ii. 353; Musical Herald, April 1889, where his portrait is given; Brown's Dict. of Musicians; Love's Scottish Church Music, where date of his death has to be corrected; St. Matthias's Mag., April 1889, December 1891; Funeral Sermon preached at St. Matthias's Church; Church Times, 6 Nov. 1891; private information from his widow. The birth date on the memorial cross is erroneous, and is to be corrected.]

J. C. H.