R. J. S. Stevens

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Richard John Samuel Stevens (27 March 1757 in London, England – 23 September 1837 in Peckham near London) was an English composer and organist.


In 1801 Stevens was appointed Gresham Professor of Music in London.[1] In 1808 he received yet another appointment, as music master at Christ's Hospital. Besides being valuable in themselves, these appointments helped him to attract the wealthy pupils on whom his living substantially depended.

In 1810 Stevens married Anna Jeffery, after a long courtship; in 1811 they had a son, Richard George, who entered Gray’s Inn in 1834. He embarked on the life of a gentleman of leisure, made possible by a substantial bequest from one of his father’s friends in 1817.

Stevens's chief claim to attention is as a composer of glees. He was not prolific, considering the length of his life; the bulk of his composing was done between 1780 and 1800. Stevens was more careful than many contemporaries in his choice of texts, and devoted special attention to Shakespeare. Of his 15 Shakespearean glees, composed between 1782 and 1807, five are among his best-known pieces: "Ye spotted snakes" (1782, rev. 1791), "Sigh no more, ladies" (1787), "Crabbed age and youth" (1790), "Blow, blow, thou winter wind" (1793) and "The cloud-cap't towers"(1795).

Among Stevens’s compositions that did not outlive him were some anthems, including several for Christ's Hospital; three keyboard sonatas; an opera entitled Emma; and a few songs and hymn tunes. Stevens was a professional member of the Anacreontic Society and it is through his journal accounts that we know that John Stafford Smith wrote their club song "The Anacreontic Song", which, considerably altered and with new words, is now the national anthem of the USA, "The Star Spangled Banner".

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Theodore Aylward, Sr.
Organist of St Michael, Cornhill
Succeeded by
George William Arnull
Preceded by
John Stanley
Organist of Temple Church
Succeeded by
George Price
Preceded by
John Jones
Organist of Charterhouse London
Succeeded by
William Horsley
Preceded by
Theodore Aylward, Sr.
Gresham Professor of Music
Succeeded by
Edward Taylor
Preceded by
Robert Hudson
Organist of Christ's Hospital
Succeeded by
Robert Glenn

See also[edit]

  • Argent, Mark (ed.). Recollections of R.J.S. Stevens: an organist in Georgian London. London: Macmillan, 1992. 314 p.


  1. ^ "Stevens, Richard John Samuel". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/26424. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.). The first edition of this text is available at Wikisource: "Stevens, Richard John Samuel" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

External links[edit]