Rest for the Weary

December 4, 2016 at 10:00 am

If there was a “composer with the most ridiculously long name contest,” the winner would probably be César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck; second place would go to Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély, with third perhaps going to Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry.

Parry was among a handful of late Victorian musicians (like Elgar, Stanford, and later, Vaughan-Williams) who crafted a clearly identifiable “English” sound in a time when nationalism was the norm. It’s not too much of a stretch to argue that he was among those who ushered in England’s second musical golden age (which, perhaps, peaked with Britten?). Parry, like a good, twee, English gentleman, wrote a set of songs at the end of his life as a farewell to his friends and an epitaph for his life. They are all beautiful, and, as they are appropriate for use in church, they continue to be performed regularly. His setting of Thomas Campion‘s poem, “Never Weather-Beaten Sail” is fitting for the end of one’s life, but also particularly appropriate for the season of Advent.