The Times/1915/Obituary/William Hayman Cummings
Death of Dr. Cummings.
Singer, Conductor, and Composer.
We regret to announce that Dr. W. H. Cummings, the musician, died yesterday at his residence in Dulwich, in his 84th year.
William Hayman Cummings was born at Sidbury, in Devon, on August 22, 1831. Throughout his life it was towards the vocal side of music that he devoted the greater part of his attention. As a boy he received his early training in singing as a chorister in the choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, and afterwards in that of the Temple Church, on leaving which he was appointed organist of Waltham Abbey. He did not remain an organist, for he was soon after admitted as a tenor in the choirs of the Temple, Westminster Abbey, and the Chapels Royal, and eventually made his appearance as an oratorio singer, his first important engagement in this capacity being in Judas Maccabœus under G. W. Martin, when he sang a substitute for Sims Reeves. In 1864 he took the tenor part in Sullivan's cantata Kenilworth, when it was produced at the Birmingham Festival, on this occasion taking the part originally assigned to Mario. Seven years later he made the first of his appearances as a singer in the United States. In England he took the chief tenor parts for many years in oratorios and cantatas, and constantly sang in the provinces as well as in London. In 1879 he was appointed the professor of singing at the Royal Academy of Music, and held the post till 1896. In 1882 he became chorus-master at the Sacred Harmonic Society, and eventually was made the conductor. The other chief appointment that he held was the post of Principal of the Guildhall School of Music, to which he was appointed in 1896, in succession to Barnby, and where he remained until 1910, when he retired. He was also associated, in a less degree, but in the capacity of an official, with the Philharmonic Society, the Musical Association, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, and the Royal Society of Musicians.
Music, Old and New.
Dr. Cummings was largely instrumental in founding the Purcell Society, for which he edited several volumes. and he also wrote the Life of Purcell in the "Great Musicians" series. Throughout his life he was an assiduous collector of old music, and he leaves behind a most valuable collection of manuscripts and early printed editions. A biographical dictionary, a Life of Handel, a book on the origin and history of the National Anthem, and a primer of the Rudiments of music complete the list of his chief literary works, and his musical compositions include a cantata, The Fairy Ring, a number of songs, and some Church music. His adaptation of Mendelssohn's Festgesang "Vaterland in Leinen Gauen," for use in the English Church is in the form of the hymn, "Hark, the herald angels sing," is known all over the English-speaking world, though few of those who hear it are probably aware of its authorship. In 1900 he received the degree of Mus.D. from Dublin University, and one of the events in his later life of which he was proudest was the occasion of the presentation, in June, 1908, of an address signed by some 800 musicians, together with a cheque for 500 guineas, which were offered to him in recognition of "the valuable service, which, with exemplary courage, he rendered the community," in connexion with an action for libel brought against him by the founder of a bogus signing academy.