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World Book Day 2020

A set of Services, Anthems & Psalm Tunes for Country Choirs by John Smith of Markey Lavington

When you think of World Book Day, you wouldn't necessarily associate it with music...

However, books come in all shapes and sizes.

This World Book Day, our Library volunteers have rediscovered 3 beautifully conserved books containing Services, Anthems and Psalm Tunes for Country Choirs by John Smith.

John Smith was a composer who was based in Market Lavington and was composing in the 1740s. This makes him, roughly speaking, a contemporary of Handel and Bach.

His music is for singing with two to four part harmony. Two part harmony is where the melody is sung by the higher pitched voice and the harmonisation is sung below the melody. Four Part Harmony is where the four voices of soprano, alto, tenor and bass are harmonised.

According to the IMSLP Petrucci Music Library, surviving copies are almost as rare as hen’s teeth. Fortunately, the copy held in our Library was been beautifully conserved and rebounded in 2015, partly funded by a grant from the West Gallery Music Association.

The three books were published by subscription and there are some 61 subscribers mainly from villages in and around the Lavington’s but one or two from as far afield as Portsmouth and Stoke.

In 2010 Market Lavington Museum had one of John’s pieces performed at their Museum Miscellany.

Should you be interested to hear a sample of John Smith’s work we have a recording of Psalm 117 from Book the Second performed by The Gladly Solemn Sound, a choir from Lancaster.

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