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Biography of

Samuel Sebastian Wesley

14 aug 1810 (London) - 16 apr 1876 (Gloucester)
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Samuel Sebastian Wesley (14 August 1810 – 19 April 1876) was an English organist and composer.



Born in London, he was the son of the composer Samuel Wesley and his partner Sarah Suter, and grandson of Charles Wesley. His middle name derived from his father's lifelong admiration for the music of Bach.

After singing in the choir of the Chapel Royal as a boy, Samuel Sebastian embarked on a career as a musician, and was appointed organist at Hereford Cathedral in 1832. He moved to Exeter Cathedral three years later, and subsequently held appointments at Leeds Parish Church, Winchester Cathedral and Gloucester Cathedral.

Famous in his lifetime as one of his country's leading organists and choirmasters, he composed almost exclusively for the Church of England, which continues to cherish his memory. His better-known anthems include Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace and Wash me throughly. He also wrote several rather late examples of verse anthems, which contrast unison and contrapuntal sections with smaller, more intimate passages for solo voice or voices. Blessed be the God and Father, The Wilderness and Ascribe unto the Lord are of considerable length, as is his Service in E. The popular short anthem Lead me Lord is an extract from Praise the Lord, O my soul. Several of his compositions for solo organ have enduring value and continue to be played in recitals.

A curious feature of his career is his aversion to equal temperament, an aversion he kept for decades after this tuning method had been accepted on the Continent and even in most of England. What makes his dislike still more strange is his periodic taste for chromatic writing, of a sort which would seem to presuppose equal temperament in some form.


  • A Few Words on Cathedral Music and the Musical System of the Church, with a Plan of Reform (1849)


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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Samuel Sebastian Wesley. Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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