John Weldon (musician)
John Weldon (19 January 1676 – 7 May 1736) was an English composer.
Born at Chichester in the south of England, he was educated at Eton, where he was a chorister, and later received musical instruction from Henry Purcell. By 1694 Weldon had been appointed organist of New College in Oxford and became well known in the musical life of that city, writing music for masques as well as performing his organist duties.
Weldon moved to London and in 1701 took part in a competition to set Congreve's libretto The Judgement of Paris to music. Perhaps surprisingly, Weldon's setting was chosen over contributions by his older, more experienced and better-known competitors, Daniel Purcell (younger brother of Henry), John Eccles and Godfrey Finger. Even more curiously, Purcell's and Eccles's scores were later published by John Walsh. Weldon's however was not and remains in manuscript, though the lack of recognition of his relatively new name may also have played a part. There is some evidence to suggest that the judges of the competition were not entirely impartial, however it has also been suggested that Weldon's setting was considered less old fashioned than his somewhat older contemporaries. In the same year as the competition, Weldon was made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal.
Having established his reputation in London, Weldon continued for some years to write music for the theatre. Music for The Tempest, until the mid-1960s believed to have been composed by Henry Purcell, was in all probability written by Weldon for the Drury Lane Theatre, in 1712. Weldon's musical style owes much to Purcell's influence but is more Italianate and also embraces the 'modern' French styles and forms that were becoming increasingly popular at the time.
John Weldon devoted the latter part of his life almost exclusively to the duties of the Chapel Royal and to writing church music. He succeeded John Blow (1649-1708) as Chapel Royal organist, and in 1715 was made second composer under William Croft (1678-1727). Six solo anthems were published by John Walsh in 1716 under the title Divine Harmony. They were claimed to have been sung by the famous tenor, Richard Elford, though it seems that at least some of the anthems were written for one Mr Bowyer during Weldon's time at New College. Weldon also held the post of organist at two London Churches, St Bride's, Fleet Street (from 1702) and St Martin-in-the-Fields (from 1714). He died on 7 May 1736 and is buried in St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden, London. Some of his sacred music is published by Music 18.
John Weldon's grandson Samuel Thomas Champnes would follow in his musical footsteps and become one of Handel's soloists. Many of their descendants were involved in the church and took the Weldon surname as their second name, often writing the music for hymns in the Ancient and Modern song book.
Until the early 21st century, John Weldon's work had been judged primarily on the basis of the six anthems published in Divine Harmony during his lifetime and the two anthems published in Boyce's Cathedral Music. The six solo anthems have much to commend them, but also weaknesses in sequential and (to a lesser degree) tonal control. The seventh, O God, thou hast cast us out is rather more sophisticated and as such gained a place in Arnold's Cathedral Music. Also gaining a place in this collection was the full-with-verse anthem, Who can tell how oft he offendeth. It is this anthem that Weldon excels in a synthesis of Blow/Purcellian structure and Handelian harmony. The most successful of Weldon's writing, though, is found in the verse anthems. In these he conveys a wide range of emotions and develops ensemble writing techniques in systematic ways. Particularly successful are the anthems conveying joy and praise with unbounded elation. The solo and ensemble writing in these verse anthems is particularly strong, with real virtuosity required on the part of the singers.
Anthems in (probable) chronological order:
|Title||Index number||Genre||Probable date|
|O praise God in his holiness||JW24||Short Full Anthem||1701|
|O praise the Lord for it is a good thing||JW25||Short Full Anthem||1701|
|O Lord, rebuke me not||JW1||Solo Anthem||Pre-1702|
|I will lift up mine eyes||JW5||Solo Anthem||Pre-1702|
|O how pleasant are thy dwellings||JW8||Solo Anthem||Pre-1702|
|Blessed be the Lord my strength||JW2||Solo Anthem||Pre-1702|
|O praise the Lord of heaven||JW3||Solo Anthem||Pre-1702|
|O praise the Lord, laud ye the name of the Lord
|Thou art my portion||JW4||Solo Anthem||Probably pre-1702|
|Have mercy upon me||JW6||Solo Anthem||c.1700-1705|
|O God thou hast cast us out||JW7||Solo Anthem||1703/4|
|O sing unto the Lord a new song||JW12||Verse Anthem||9 January 1707/8|
|Ponder my words||JW15||Verse Anthem||1708-1712|
|Praise the Lord ye servants||JW14||Verse Anthem||1708-1712|
|O praise the Lord, laud ye the name of the Lord
(Chapel Royal version)
|Sanctus and Gloria||JW26/27||Full Service (with verses)||c.1708|
|Rejoice in the Lord||JW13||Verse Anthem||17 February 1708/9|
|O praise the Lord, ye that fear him||JW16||Verse Anthem||After February 1708/9; before 1713/4|
|O give thanks unto the Lord||JW35||Verse Anthem||22 November 1709|
|Blessed is the man that feareth||JW34||Verse Anthem||?1708-1712|
|Blessed are those that are undefiled||JW33||Verse Anthem||?1708-1712|
|The King shall rejoice||JW17||Verse Anthem||c.1710-c.1715|
|Hear my crying, O God||JW19||Full-with-verses Anthem||?1712-c.1715|
|In thee, O Lord||JW20||Full-with-verses Anthem||?1712- c.1715|
|Turn thou us, O good Lord||JW22||Full-with-verses Anthem||?c.1711-c.1713|
|The Princes of the People||JW37||Verse Anthem||Pre-1714, probably 1713|
|Service in D||JW28/29/31/32||Full Service (with verses)||1714-1717|
|O be joyful||JW10||Verse Anthem||c.1715-1722|
|O Lord, let me hear thy loving kindness||JW11||Verse Anthem||c.1715-1722|
|I will love thee, O Lord||JW36||Verse Anthem||c.1715-1722|
|Who can tell how oft he offendeth||JW21||Full-with-verses Anthem||c.1715-1716|
|Let God arise||JW18||Verse Anthem||?c.1715-1722|
- The Judgement of Paris (6 May 1701)
- Orpheus and Euridice (c. 1701)
- Britain's Happines (1704)
- The Tempest (1712)
|Organist of the St Martin-in-the-Fields
- Franklin Zimmerman, Henry Purcell 1659-1695, his Life and Times (New York 1967)
- In the Folger Library, Washington, D.C., Ms. Cs. 1479
- In the printed score of Eccles's The Judgement of Paris, published by Walsh (1702), the composer commented that there were some [judges] 'who came prepar'd to Dislike it'.
- Margaret Laurie: 'Did Purcell set The Tempest?', Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, xc (1963–4), p. 43–57
- See "In Thee O Lord" in the Choral Public Domain Library.
- Weldon, J., Divine Harmony. Six select anthems for a voice alone (London: Walsh and Hare, 1716)
- Bullamore, Stephen D. (2015) The sacred music of John Weldon (1676-1736). PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.
- "John Weldon – Music 18". www.music18.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-06-09.
- Boyce, William (1760–73). Cathedral Music. London: Printed for the Editor.
- Arnold, Samuel (1790). Cathedral Music. London: Printed for the Editor.