In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer William H. Harris.
William H. Harris
Sir William Henry Harris was an English organist and composer, affectionately nicknamed “Doc H” by his choristers. At the age of 14, he took up a position as Assistant Organist at St David’s Cathedral in Wales, followed at 16 by a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where he was Professor of Organ and Harmony from 1921 to 1955. In 1911 he took up the position of Assistant Organist at Lichfield Cathedral followed in 1919 by becoming Organist successively at New College and in 1929 Christ Church, Oxford, moving to St. George’s Chapel, Windsor in 1933. Harris is best remembered for his Anglican church music though his main achievements were as a choir-trainer. His most famous works are the anthems Faire is the heaven and Bring us, O Lord God, both for unaccompanied double choir, and Strenthen ye the weak hands for choir and organ. Harris’s Communion Service in F and the canticles Harris in A and Harris in A minor are still sung at Evensong Anglican cathedrals.
Suggested choral pieces:
- O What Their Joy and Their Glory Must Be (Oxford University Press)
- Love of Love and Light of Light (unpub.)
- Faire is the Heaven (Hinshaw HMC666)