Join us for a cross-Atlantic conversation with Professor John Richard Watson and Dr. Ryan Vigil. They talk about British hymn composition in the early twentieth century and explore its special relationship with the 1932 edition of the Christian Science Hymnal. Figures in the discussion include composers Ralph Vaughn Williams, Clement Scholefield, and Norman Greenwood, as well as writers John Greenleaf Whittier and Violet Spiller Hay. Prof. Watson also gives insight into reaction against Victorian culture during this period, as part of the new wave of hymn writing.

In this episode, Watson and Vigil refer to remarks that Dr. Carl Daw made in a past Library webcast. To watch that program, click on the link below:
Webcast: “All that is in them, singing”: What are hymns going for?

This episode mentions Mary Baker Eddy’s account of meeting poet John Greenleaf Whittier. If you’d like to read it, click on the link below:
Document: Account of Mary Baker Eddy’s Visit with John Greenleaf Whittier, 1868. A11063, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection

To learn more about Eddy’s interactions with Whittier, please contact our research staff at [email protected].

Podcast guests

Professor John Richard Watson is an undisputed authority in the field of hymnody. This was fully confirmed when the Clarendon Press (the academic imprint of the Oxford University Press) published his work The English Hymn, a Critical and Historical Study (1997), followed by An Annotated Anthology of Hymns (2002). Watson is General Editor of The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, a successor to John D. Julian’s massive Dictionary of Hymnology (1892, 1907). Watson was educated in Oxford, England, at Magdalen College School and Magdalen College. After two years teaching English at Loretto School near Edinburgh, Scotland, he became a post-graduate student at the University of Glasgow, gaining his PhD (1966) with a study of William Wordsworth. He was lecturer in the English departments at the Universities of Glasgow (1962–66) and Leicester (1966–78), and professor of English at Durham University (1978–99), where he has been an emeritus professor since 1999. His 1981 inaugural lecture was titled “The Victorian Hymn.”

Dr. Ryan Vigil is Manager, General Publications at The Christian Science Publishing Society. An accomplished musician, Dr. Vigil contributed compositions to the recently issued Christian Science Hymnal: Hymns 430-603. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, a master’s in composition and theory from Tufts University, and a master’s and doctorate in composition from Yale University. He has taught at several colleges and universities, most recently serving for eight years on the music faculty at the University of New Hampshire.

Teddy Crecelius is a performer and stage director whose career spans diverse musical and theatrical genres. Every place he has moved, “church musician” has been an important part of his job description—whether Bangkok, while on the faculty of Mahidol University’s College of Music, or Cooperstown, New York, where he was a young artist at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival. Teddy has an especially deep affinity for early American hymnody, having conducted research at the American Antiquarian Society.

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