Friday, August 12, 2016

Sir Frederick Arthur Gore Ouseley

Born into Great Britain's upper classes on this day in 1825, composer Frederick Arthur Gore Ouseley grew up the son of the ambassador to Russia and godson to the Dukes of Wellington and York. His musical talents were obvious from an early age, and he wrote an opera (L'isola disabitata or, The Uninhabited Island) when he was eight years old.

His lifelong interest in Anglican church music was sometimes seen by his social peers as odd, but he persisted, founding the College of Saint Michael and All Angels in 1856. This was a choir school which gained a sterling reputation for excellence, and the library, started with Ouseley's own collection was renowned well into the twentieth century. When the school closed in 1985, the books were transferred to the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

Ouseley's anthems and hymn tunes are not well known these days, though they turn up now and then. Today's tune was first published in the influential Hymns Ancient and Modern in 1861.

Where is your God, my soul?
Is God within your heart,
Or ruler of a distant realm
In which we have no part?

Where is your God, my soul?
Only in stars and sun?
Or have the holy words of truth
God's light in every one?

Where is your God, my soul?
Confined to Scripture’s page?
Or does the Spirit check and guide
The spirit of each age?

O Ruler of the sky,
Come rule within my heart;
O great Adorner of the world,
Your light of life impart.

In you have I my help,
As all my forebears had;
I’ll trust you when I’m sorrowful,
And serve you when I'm glad.

Thomas Toke Lynch, 1855; alt.
Tune: ABERYSTWYTH (Ouseley),(S.M.)
Frederick A. Gore Ouseley, 1861

This text by Thomas Toke Lynch (recently discussed here) is another hymn from The Rivulet, his controversial collection. You can see how some of its ideas were not exactly in line with much of the theology of his day (particularly the third stanza).  "Adorner of the world" is a name of God that I have not encountered before.

Eight Years Ago: Joseph Barnby

Seven Years Ago: Frederick A. Gore Ouseley

Six Years Ago: Joseph Barnby

Four Years Ago: Frederick A. Gore Ouseley

Three Years Ago: Joseph Barnby

Another Birthday Today: Katharine Lee Bates

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