Michael Wise

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Michael Wise (1648–1687) was an English organist and composer. He sang as a child in the choir of the Chapel Royal and served as a countertenor in St George's Chapel, Windsor, from 1666 until, in 1668, he was appointed organist and choirmaster at Salisbury Cathedral. In 1676 he became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and in the last year of his life was Master of the Children at St Paul's Cathedral.

He was killed during a confontation with a Salisbury night watchman:

"He had quarrelled with his wife on some trivial matter, and rushed out of his house. The watchman met him while he was yet boiling with rage, and commanding him to stand and give an account of himself, he struck the guardian of the peace to the ground, who in return aimed a blow at his assailant with his bill, which broke his skull, of the consequence whereof he died."[1]


As well as Service Settings, his compositions include anthems such as:[2]

A number of movements within the jubilant Prepare ye the way of the Lord were parodied by George Frederic Handel in the oratorio Messiah.

Wise also composed some catches and at least one once famous drinking song, Old Chiron.

He often composed for the unusual combination of a duet of bass and treble voices – for instance, in Old Chiron and The Ways of Zion do mourn.


  1. ^ John E. West (1899). Cathedral Organists Past and Present. Novello and Company Ltd.
  2. ^ The New Church Anthem Book. Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 77

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Randall Jewett
Almoner and Master of the Choristers of St Paul's Cathedral
Succeeded by
John Blow