JOHN STAINER (1840 - 1901)
The son of an English teacher and flautist, John Stainer won early attention as a gifted organist. There were appointments at St Michael’s, Tenbury, at Magdalen College, Oxford, and in 1872 at St Paul’s Cathedral in London; here he organised the choir school and restored musical standards. He held various positions in the English musical establishment and is remembered among musicians primarily for his pioneering work in the study of earlier music. He was knighted in 1888.
Stainer, perhaps with justification, had no high opinion of his work as a composer. Nevertheless the oratorio The Crucifixion, a work easily within the competence of amateur choirs, retains a popular position in England’s annual religious repertoire. 31 of his 150 hymn tunes are included in Hymns Ancient and Modern, but none in Vaughan Williams’s English Hymnal. His other compositions are chiefly for the Church of England liturgy, including a number of anthems.