William Henry Monk
William Henry Monk was born on the 16th March 1823 in London, England. He is well known for composing hymn tunes and was also a church musician, editor and organist.
By the time he was 18 years old, he played the organ for St Peter’s Church in Eaton Square, London. After 2 years, he left and took up 2 more organist positions at other churches in the city. This helped to develop his ambition for music.
Monk moved on to become choirmaster at King’s College in London in 1847. He became interested in using plainsong into church services. He then became the organist at King’s College in 1849. In 1852, he was appointed choirmaster and organist at St Matthias’ Church in Stock Newington. Here he introduced plainsong into the signing of psalms. He also began arranging and composing hymns.
He progressed further still in 1857, when due to his increasing talents, he gained the position of musical editor of ‘Hymns Ancient and Modern,’ a collection of hymns that are used in the Church of England. Many editions and supplements were published and it went from strength to strength and became one of the best-selling hymn books ever published. This publication included Monk’s most famous tune Eventide, which is predominantly used for the hymn Abide With Me. This was arranged for brass band in 2002 by composer and arranger James McFadyen. Other notable pieces are St. Denys and Gethsemane.
Monk also edited the 1862 edition of ‘Wordsworth’s Hymns for the Holy Year’ and the 1872 edition of ‘The Scottish Hymnal.’
William Henry Monk accepted a further position at King’s College as professor of vocal studies. He went on to accept positions similar to this at 2 other leading music schools in London (National Training School for Music in 1876 and Bedford College 2 years later).
He continued to compose anthems, hymn tunes and other pieces. He was awarded an honorary Doctor in Music degree in 1882 from the University of Durham. He died on the 1st March 1889 and was buried at the cemetery in Highgate in north London.