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WILSON, John Whitridge (1905-1992)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1249 MS 6246, MS 7058
Held at: Royal College of Music
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Full title: WILSON, John Whitridge (1905-1992)
Date(s): 1946-1980
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 7 boxes and 1 file
Name of creator(s): Wilson | John Whitridge | 1905-1992 | Director of Music at Charterhouse


Administrative/Biographical history:

John Whitridge Wilson was born 21 Jan 1905; educated at Manchester Grammar School and Dulwich College; read Natural Science at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge; joined staff of Repton School; left to study piano and organ at Royal College of Music; appointed Assistant Director of Music, Tonbridge School, 1929; appointed Assistant Director of Music, Charterhouse, 1932, and Director, 1947-1965; taught keyboard and score reading, RCM, 1962-1980; resumed Sixth Form teaching, Charterhouse, 1980; died 16 Jul 1992. Hymns for Church and School was published by Novello & Co in 1964. It was the retitled fourth edition of the Public School Hymn Book (PSHB), first published by Novello in 1903. Each edition was edited by a committee of the Headmasters' Conference, established in 1869, and including heads of all the major public schools and others eligible for representation. The 1903 publication comprised some 349 hymns and included hymns by contemporary schoolmaster-composers. A Companion to the Public School Hymn Book by Dr W M Furneaux, Dean of Winchester, was published in 1904, giving biographical details of the authors and indicating the sources of the hymns. A second edition of PSHB appeared in 1919. The volume had increased to 426 hymns and many of those which had appeared in 1903 were excised. Work on a third edition started in 1937 but was interrupted by the war, and it was not published until 1949. Craig Sellar Lang and Ralph Vaughan Williams had collaborated on editing this edition, and which had a supplementary revision in 1958. Some 100 hymns of the 1919 edition were rejected, and 250 new hymns added in their place, to give some 554 hymns and 484 tunes grouped according to seasons and purposes. In 1960, following publication of an article by John Wilson on the 1949 edition in The Hymn Society Bulletin, it was decided to appoint Wilson as Organising Secretary of a Committee of the Headmasters' Conference responsible for publishing a new edition. This contained 346 hymns (with 20 new additions) and 389 tunes, including 23 newly written by among others Sir William Harris, Herbert Howells and John Gardner. The Methodist Hymns and Songs was edited by Wilson and published by the Methodist Publishing House in 1969, as a popular supplement to the 1933 Methodist Hymn Book.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of John Whitridge Wilson in the preparation of Hymns for Church and School (Novello & Co, London, 1964), including typescripts of the verses; manuscript copies of the tunes; source material for words and music of hymns of 1949 edition of the Public School Hymn Book; correspondence between Novello & Co and the Headmasters' Conference on the publication of the 1949 edition, 1946-1949, 1954; correspondence mainly with other committee members of the of the Headmasters' Conference and Novello & Co, 1960-1965, regarding publication of volume, including J H Alden, Leonard J Blake, John Gardner, W H Harris, Craig Sellar Lang, Derek R Wigram; typescript of 'The public school hymn book, 1949 and 1959' by John Wilson, for The Hymn Society Bulletin 89, Spring 1960; `Hymns for Church and School' by the Bishop of Whitby, Conference, Sep 1963; press reviews; notebooks on selection and editing of individual hymns; notes by Wilson on five hymns for Hymns for Church and School (Novello & Co, London, 1964) by Herbert Howells with biographical notes on the authors of the texts, Walter Russel Bowie, Timothy Rees and Charles Wesley (MS 6246), with music manuscripts of the hymns in Howells' hand and photocopies of the hymns as published (one hymn unpublished). Correspondence with Methodist authorities relating to the publication of Hymns and Songs edited by Wilson, including copy of Wilson's A short companion to 'Hymns and Songs', 1968-1970; correspondence and minutes of the Methodist Hymnody Sub-Committee relating to the publication and content of hymnals, 1970-1976; Papers of the Hymn Society of America, journals 1962-1980.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged in boxes as follows: Tunes, nos 1-300; Tunes, 301-end; Words, psalms supplement and copyright; correspondence, 1946-1949, 1954, 1960-1965; correspondence, 1960-1964; notebooks.

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.

Finding aids:

Not known

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

MS 6246, notes by Wilson on five hymns Hymns for Church and School was donated by Wilson in July 1990. The remaining material was donated by the executors of John Wilson, 1990s.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Robert Baxter as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project. Source: Obituary of Wilson by Peter Horton, Royal College of Music Magazine, vol 90, 1993.

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

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