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Royal College of Music

Sacred Harmonic Society


Reference code(s): GB 1249 Sacred Harmonic Society

Held at: Royal College of Music

Title: Sacred Harmonic Society

Date(s): 1832-1878

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 9 volumes

Name of creator(s): Sacred Harmonic Society


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Sacred Harmonic Society was founded in London as an amateur choral society in 1832 for the weekly practice of music of an exclusively sacred character. The first home of the Society was the Gate Chapel in Lincoln's Inn Fields. In 1836 it was granted the use of the larger Exeter Hall, focus of London's dissenting community and designed for religious and charitable meetings. The works of Handel were part of its core repertoire and the society also performed the major new works of Spohr and Mendelssohn, including the London première of Elijah in 1847. At the Handel Festival of 1859 the Sacred Harmonic choir numbered 2765. The Sacred Harmonic Society provided the nucleus for the nationally represented choir of the Trial Festival of 1857 (numbering 2000, with an orchestra of about 400), prior to the Centenary Festival of 1859, which inaugurated the triennial Handel Festival. In 1882, the Society disbanded after losing the use of its Exeter Hall base.


Scope and content/abstract:

Annual reports of the Sacred Harmonic Society, 1832-1878.


Language/scripts of material: English.

System of arrangement:

Arranged in volumes as follows: 1832-1836; 1837-1842; 1843-1848; 1849-1852; 1853-1859; 1860-1866; 1867-1871; 1872-1878.

Conditions governing access:

Usual conditions of the Library of the Royal College of Music apply. See the RCM website or contact the RCM Library for details.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying is permitted at the discretion of the Archivist for research purposes only.

Physical characteristics:

There are two volumes of reports for 1832-1836, both in manuscript. The remaining volumes contain printed reports.

Finding aids:

Not known


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Formed part of the Sowerbutts Collection at the Royal College of Organists.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Not known


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

RCM library holds Sacred Harmonic Society: letter from W H Husk, Society Librarian, to August Manns, regarding loan of books, 19 Jan 1865 (ref: Mss 7019).

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Compiled by Robert Baxter as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project. Source: Grove Dictionary of Music.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: May 2001

Religious music | Musical styles
Vocal music | Music | Performing arts

Personal names

Corporate names
Sacred Harmonic Society