Biography of

Henry John Gauntlett

9 jul 1805 (Wellington) - 21 feb 1876 (London)
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Henry Gauntlett

Henry John Gauntlett (July 9, 1805 in Wellington, Shropshire– February 21, 1876) was an organist and songwriter known in British music circles for his authorship of a large number of hymns and other pieces for the organ.[1]

He became the organist at his father's church[2] at Olney, Buckinghamshire at the age of nine.

He was intended for a career in law and remained a lawyer until he was almost forty years of age, when he abandoned the profession and devoted himself to music.

He was organist at a number of leading London churches, St Olave's in Tooley Street, Southwark from 1827 to 1846 where he designed a new grand organ which was built, installed and perfected to his satisfaction between 1844 and March 1846, and Union Chapel, Islington from 1852 - 1861.

Eventually the degree of Mus. Doc. was conferred on him by the Archbishop of Canterbury, he being the first to receive such a degree from that quarter for over 200 years. He did much to raise the standard of church music both mechanically and musically.

In 1852, he patented an "electrical-action apparatus" for organs. He wrote much music and over 1,000 hymn tunes, and edited a large number of hymn books. His most famous tune is "Irby", the tune to which the children's carol, "Once in Royal David's City" is usually sung.


  1. ^ "Henry John Gauntlett". Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  2. ^ Henry Gauntlett, who was curate at Olney (1811-1815) and vicar (1815-1834), wrote An Exposition of the Book of Revelation London: Seeley (1821) which is still a widely respected commentary on that biblical book.

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