Sunday, 25 June 2017

25th June 2017 Trinity 2

John Stainer “God so loved the world” from “The Crucifixion”

“The Crucifixion: A Mediation on the Sacred Passion of the Holy Redeemer” was composed in 1887 and first performed on 24th February of that year. It was dedicated to his friend and pupil W Hodge and the choir of Marylebone Church.  It is a sacred oratorio for tenor and bass soli, SATB choir and organ. W J Sparrow Simpson wrote the libretto.  The work has been dismissed in the past, even Stainer himself calling it “rubbish” but it is continued to be a staple of church music since its first performance, especially around Easter. “God so loved the world” is one of the choral pieces, but the text can be used at any time in the church calendar, as it is reflecting part of the Eucharist.

Sir John Stainer (1840 – 1901) was an English composer and organist.  He was very popular during his life, but now little of his music is performed other than “The Crucifixion”. He was the Heather Professor of Music at Oxford, and his training of choristers and organists set standard that remain influential today.


He was born in Southwark, London, son of a cabinetmaker.  He was a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral at the age of ten. At sixteen he was appointed organist at St Michael’s College, Tenbury.  He was later organist at Magdalen College, Oxford and the St Paul’s Cathedral. Whilst at Magdalen he was allowed to study as long as it did not interfere with his duties as organist.  He chose to do so and in 1864 gained his BA with his MA coming 2 years later. Due to poor eyesight he had to retire from St Paul’s whist in his forties and returned to Oxford to take up his chair. Queen Victoria honoured him with his knighthood in 1888 for his services to British music, the same year he retired from St Paul’s. He died unexpectedly whilst holidaying in Italy.

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