Johann Rudolphe Ahle (1625-1673) was born in Thuringia, Germany. He studied theology and music, becoming cantor at St Andrew's Church, Erfurt. In 1654, he became organist at St Blaise's Church, Muhlhausen. He composed many sacred works for the organ and choir. Johann Ahle also served his town as town council member and Mayor. His son, Johann Georg Ahle was also an accomplished composer and organist.
Mrs Alexander (1823-1895) was born in County Wicklow, Ireland, and was writing poetry from a young age. She became famous for her hymns, especially hymns for children. Her works include "There is a green hill far away", "All things bright and beautiful" and a translation of "Saint Patrick's breastplate".
In 1850, she married a fellow poet, William Alexander, who became Bishop of Derry, and Archbishop of Armagh.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was born in Germany, into a musical family; his father and uncles were all professional musicians. He has become regarded as one of the world's great composers; known for organ and orchestral works, sacred and secular.
Sir Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877) was born in London, and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He took holy orders in 1844 and became vicar at Monkland, near Leominster. He wrote his first hymn in 1852, and took a leading role in editing "Hymns Ancient and Modern", published in 1861. He contributed several original hymns as well as translations from the Latin. He also wrote books of prayers and religious tracts.
Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) was a prominent collector of folk music, as well as being a prolific writer of hymns, poems and novels.
He was ordained in 1864 and served parishes in Yorkshire, Essex and Devon.
A child prodigy, Anna Barbauld (née Aikin) (1743-1825) learned to read at the age of two and became a writer of poetry, political essays and literature for children. Her reputation suffered when she published a poem critical of the Napoleonic wars and she stopped publishing further work.
Philipp Paul Bliss (1838-1876) was a popular writer of gospel hymns. He was born in a poor family, but had a natural talent for music. He had a fine singing voice, and became an itinerant music teacher, travelling with his melodeon. He had varying success as a singer, teacher and composer.
Mr Bliss met Rev. Dwight Moody in 1839, and thereafter devoted his life and talents to God. He wrote seven books of hymns and took part in revival rallies across America.
Tragically, both Bliss and his wife, Lucy, were killed, along with about 90 others, in a train crash that became known as the Ashtabula River Disaster.
Edmond Louis Budry (1854-1932) was a Swiss theologian, writer and translator.
Felix Burns (1864-1920) was a prolific composer of light classical and band pieces. He was born in Perth, Scotland, but lived most of his adult life just over the border, in Carlisle. Mr Burns was a popular performer, band master, teacher and church organist, as well as having nine children with his wife, Catherine. He was a prolific composer of popular light music for solo and band performance, always with the up-and-coming musician in mind; there is a great selection of his easy-to-intermediate pieces on this site, including some from his nom-de-plume, Leona Lacoste.His sixteen dance albums each present a complete dance programme. Though written for the piano (with cornet and violin parts also available), many of the pieces lend themselves to the very different style and temperament of the accordion. Some, like the Queen Mary Waltz, found a new lease of life in the hands of Jimmy Shand in the 1950s; others are waiting to be rediscovered and interpreted for a new audience.
The famous brother and sister duo, Richard and Karen Carpenter.
John White Chadwick (1840-1904) was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts. He began an apprenticeship to become a shoemaker, but then chose a more academic path and went back to school. He became a Unitarian minister and served as pastor of the Second Unitarian Church, Brooklyn, New York.
Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704) was a French composer, mostly of vocal compositions. He studied music in Rome, and was master of music for the Jesuits in Paris.
Elizabeth Clephane (1830-1869) was a Scottish poet. Many of her poems became hymns.
See Frances Jane van Alstyne
William Howard Doane (1832-1915) was a manufacturer and entrepreneur; success in business enabled him to become a significant philanthropist. He showed musical talent from a young age, and became a composer and arranger of hymns, songs, choral works and instrumental pieces. His collaboration with Mrs Frances Jane van Alstyne (also known as Fanny Crosby) resulted in around 1500 new hymns, many of which are still included in modern hymn books.
Professor of piano at the Conservatoire de Paris, and composer of more than 300 pieces.
Johann Georg Ebeling (1637-1676) was closely associated with the German hymn writer Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676). He published many of his hymns and wrote tunes for about 30 of them.
James Elliott (1833-1915) received musical education as a chorister at Leamington Parish Church, then became organist and choir master. Later, he assisted Sir Arthur Sullivan in compiling "Church Hymns". His compositions include hymns, anthems, operattas and music for children.
Mr Elvey was a chorister of Canterbury Cathedral and New College, Oxford, before studying music at the Royal Academy. He served as organist of St George's Chapel, Windsor, for 47 years.
Thomas Este (an old spelling of East) (1540-1609) was an English music publisher. He published many works of classical and sacred music, most of which were in the four part harmony still familiar to choirs today. One innovation was that the melody line was more often given to the higher voice; choirs of his day were more familiar with the tenor singing the melody.
Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler (1860-1929) was the daughter of the Viscount of Wolverhampton. She was an accomplished writer of novels, poems and short stories.
Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (1858-1932) was born in a farming family in Iowa, USA. He had no formal musical training, but taught himself to play the family organ. He had a natural ear for music and composed hymns and songs using many pseudonyms, as well as editing books of songs for choirs, congregations and children. He considered his best work to be a cantata for adult voices, "Saul, King of Israel".
Niels W Gade (1817-1890) was a Danish violinist, organist, composer, and music teacher. He moved to teach at the conservatory at Leipzig, where he became friends with the composer Mendolssohn. He returned to Copenhagen to become director of the Copenhagen Musical Society, and was later joint director of the Copenhagen conservatory. Edvard Grieg and Carl Nielsen were among his pupils.
Henry John Gauntlett (1805-1876) wrote over 1,000 hymn tunes, as well as works for the organ. At nine years old, he was organist at the church where his father was curate, in Olney, Buckinghamshire.
As well as playing the organ, he was skilled at repairing and building organs, and did much to improve standards of both playing and the mechanical construction of the instruments.
Sir John Goss (1800-1880) composed primarily sacred music, and was a renowned organist and music teacher. He was professor at the Royal Academy of Music, where his pupils included Arthur Sullivan and John Stainer.
John Hampden Gurney (1802-1862) was born in London and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He became an Anglican priest. Rev. Gurney published three collections of hymns; his best known works include Ye Holy Angels Bright, Yes God is Good in Earth and Sky, and We Saw Thee Not When Thou Didst Come.
George Frederic Handel (1685-1859) was born in Germany, but lived most of his adult life in London, England. He composed sacred and secular music, with "The Messiah", "Music for the Royal Fireworks" and "Water Music" among his enduring creations. He is buried in Westminster Abbey, London.
Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612) was born in Nuremberg, Germany, and received his first music instruction from his father, who was an organist. Later, he studied in Italy, and brought Italian influence into his music. He is regarded as one of Germany's greatest composers of both secular and sacred music. He was also a consultant to organ builders, and developed a clockwork organ.
John Henry Hopkins II (1820-1891) was first a journalist, then a clergyman, musician and composer.
He delivered the eulogy at the funeral of president Ulysses S Grant in 1885.
William Horsley (1774-1858) served as organist of several churches, and composed a great variety of music, including three orchestral symphonies and five books of glees - unaccompanied songs of several parts.
Katharine Agnes May Kelly (1869-1942) was born in Croydon, Surrey, and died in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
Thomas Kelly (1769-1854) was an Irish clergyman, known for his learning, his writing and his support to communities during the Irish famine. He wrote almost 800 hymns.
Conrad Kocher (1786-1872) was a German musician, composer, organist and choirmaster. He founded the School of Sacred Music, and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Tubingen.
Mrs Knapp was a talented pianist and organist; she wrote more than 500 hymns and choral works.
William Knapp (1698-1768) was a glover, and also an itinerant choir master, and published two books of hymns. "Wareham" is his most famous composition.
Leona Lacoste is one of several nom-de-plumes used by the prolific composer Felix Burns (1864-1920). Other names he used were Claude Rosalind and Leon Fabrina.
Robert Lowry (1826-1899) studied theology and became a Baptist minister, serving churches in New York City, Brooklyn, West Chester, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He wrote at least 500 hymns, including some in collaboration with others such as Annie Hawks and Fanny Crosby (Mrs Frances van Alstyne).
Though best known as a hymn-writer, Mr Lowry saw being a composer as secondary to his preaching.
Lyra Davidica, meaning "The harp of David" was a collection of hymns published by John Baptist Walsh in 1708, mostly translated from German or Latin.
Frederick Charles Maker began his musical career as a chorister at Bristol Cathedral. Later, he taught music and became Professor of Music at Clifton College. He was organist at Milk Street Methodist Free Church, Clifton Downs Congregational Church, and Redland Park Congregational Church, holding the last post for almost 30 years.
Our researches have failed to find information about this composer. We'd love to hear from you if you know anything about the life of R Menthal.
Edward Miller (1731-1807) played flute and piano, and was a music teacher as well as composer of sacred and secular works.
John Samuel Bewley Monsell was born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He became a clergyman and served parishes in Ireland and England. Rev. Monsell was responsible for rebuilding three of his churches, and died in 1875 after suffering a fall while inspecting work at St Nicolas' Church, Guildford.
James Montgomery (1771-1854)was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, the son of missionaries. He spent most of his working life as a journalist and editor of local newspaper "The Sheffield Iris". Montgomery is best known for his hymns and poems; but he was also associated with social reform movements, such as campaigns to end slavery and prevent children from working as chimney sweeps. His outspoken views led to two prison sentences.
William Harold Neidlinger (1863-1924) studied music in New York and became organist at St Michael's church, New York City. He conducted several choirs and worked as a singing teacher in Paris. He moved to Chicago, where he taught singing and studied child psychology, eventually founding a school for disabled children in New Jersey.
Mr Neidlinger published "Small songs for small siners" in 1896 and two operas, "Ulysses" in 1901 and "Sweet Anne Page" in 1903.
Giovanni Paisiello was Italian and studied music at the Conservatorio di S. Onofrio at Naples. While in Naples he wrote a series of successful operas and a substantial body of church music. He lived for a time in Russia and France, where despite being a favourite of Napoleon, he failed to gain a popular following. He returned to Italy. Paisiello composed at least 94 operas and over 50 other compositions.
William John Pitts (1829-1903) was the son of an organ builder, from Tansor, near Oundle, Northamptonshire. He was a talented musician from an early age and was a church organist from the age of 14. He played for Elton Church, Huntingdonshire and for Brompton Oratory, Kensington, for more than 50 years. He composed both hymns and secular songs.
Our researches have not turned up any information about the composer RJC, to whom many 19th century hymn tunes and arrangements are credited. Do you know who RJC was? We'd love to hear from you if you do.
Thomas Ravenscroft (1588-1635) compiled three collections of folk music; "Pammelia," "Dueteromelia" and "Melismata." He also wrote on music theory and compiled a collection of Psalms (psalter).
Henry Russell (1812-1900) was born in England, of Jewish background. He was a prolific composer of popular songs, many of which championed social causes such as abolition of slavery and temperence.
Ira D Sankey (1840-1908) was sometimes called "the sweet singer of Methodism". He is well known for his collaboration with Rev. Dwight Moody; he also worked with many other writers and his legacy is an impressive number of gospel hymns, many of which are still popular today.
Johann Abraham Peter Schultz wrote operas, songs, books on musical theory, light classical pieces and hymn tunes.
Little is known of Florence Stanley - unless you know better! We'd love to have any biographical information about this lady, who composed in the mid 19th century.
Nathan Strong (1748-1816) was pastor of the First Congregational Church at Hartford, Connecticut. He founded the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine and helped establish the Connecticut Home Mission Society.
Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900) is best known for his collaboration with Sir William S Gilbert, which produced 14 comic operas. He also wrote operas, orchestral works, choral works, ballets, and hymn tunes.
Also known as Fanny Crosby, Mrs van Alstyne was a prolific writer of hymns, poems and religious works. She was born blind, but her disability did not prevent her from teaching, campaigning on social issues such as the abolition of slavery and education for the blind, nursing the sick during the cholera epidemic of 1849.
Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was a non-conformist preacher and theologian; he had a particular interest in re-interpreting the psalms using Christian language. He wrote a great many hymns, poems and religious works.
His poem "Against idleness and mischief" was parodied by Lewis Carroll as "How doth the little crocodile".
Charles Wesley was the brother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. He wrote more than 6,000 hymns, many of which are still in use today, with an influence far wider than the Methodist movement.
It seems that there was a John Wilkes and a John Bernard Wilkes, and some confusion as to which of the gentlemen was the organist at Monkland, and composer of the hymn tune of that name. We'd love to hear from you if you can shed any light on these two gentlemen, who lived in the mid-19th century.
Robert Williams (1782-1818) lived on the Island of Anglesey, north Wales. He was blind, and worked as a basket maker. He was also musically gifted, and it was said he could write down a piece of music after hearing it once. He was a popular singer, and wrote many hymn tunes.
There is very little information about William Youens (1834-1911), except that he lived and died in Buckinghamshire, England.