James Chadwick (bishop)

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James Chadwick (24 April 1813 at Drogheda, Ireland[1] – 14 May 1882 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and buried at Ushaw) was an Anglo-Irish Roman Catholic priest, and second Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle. He is famous for writing the lyrics of the song Angels We Have Heard on High.

Early Life and Ireland[edit]

He was born into a prosperous family in Drogheda, Ireland. His parents John Chadwick and Frances Dromgoole owned a substantial flax mill and linen manufacturing business and were one of the largest employers in the town. His father was from Lancashire, England, and his mother was Irish. His father was fined and imprisoned for siding with Prince Charles in 1745. His mother was from a Catholic family that suffered persecution.[1]The Chadwick family owned several large linen mills in Drogheda and resided in several large country homes in Mornington outside the town. The Chadwick's played an active role in the community as both major employers and as sponsors of the local catholic church. They funded the building of the new Augustinian Church, In Drogheda. He would retain close ties with his family throughout his life officiating at his niece's wedding in Mornington Church.


Chadwick was educated at Ushaw College from May, 1825, until his ordination as priest on 17 December 1836. He then was general prefect at the college for three years, after which he taught humanities until he was appointed professor of philosophy, a post he occupied for five years.

In 1849, he became Vice-President of the college and professor of dogmatic theology. After a few months his health broke down, and he found the change he needed among a little body of secular priests who devoted themselves to preaching missions and retreats. In 1856 their house at Wooler was burnt, and Father Chadwick returned once more to Ushaw as professor of philosophy.

From 1859 to 1863 he was chaplain to Lord Stourton, but again returned to Ushaw as professor of pastoral theology. He was fulfilling these duties when he was elected bishop of the diocese in 1866; he was consecrated 28 October in the college chapel by Archbishop Manning. For sixteen years he ruled the diocese and for one year during that time (1877) he also held the dignity of president of Ushaw, being the eighth in that office.


His works include:

  • The lyrics of Angels We Have Heard on High were written to fit with the music French traditional song 'Les Anges Dans Now Campagnes' (literally translates to 'The Angels in our Countryside') that was composed by an unknown author in France. Chadwick's lyrics are clearly inspired but are not a direct translation of the song though there are similarities. It is considered a derivative work. Chadwick's lyrics are considered under copyright laws as entirely his, even though they are recognized as a 'derivative work' loosely translated in sections from the original French song. In essence the original writer of the song's music could not use Chadwick's lyrics without permission, and in reverse Chadwick could not use their music without their permission. In essence they are both unique and individual works. Chadwick's version is the much more popular and commonplace. [2].The Music to both songs is the same.
  • an edition of Leuthner's "Coelum Christianum" (London, 1871);
  • "St. Teresa's Own Words: Instructions on the Prayer of Recollection" (Newcastle, 1878);
  • "Instructions How to Meditate" (published anonymously),

and many pastoral letters.


  1. ^ a b Brady, William Maziere (1877-01-01). The episcopal succession in England, Scotland and Ireland, A.D. 1400 to 1875. Tipografia Della Pace. p. 414.
  2. ^ http://bookwormtranslations.com/copyright-law-and-translation-what-you-need-to-know/

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
William Hogarth
Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle
Succeeded by
John William Bewick