1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Orlando Gibbons

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 15:471-71.



ORLANDO GIBBONS, an eminent composer of church music in the reign of James I. was born in 1583, and at the age of twenty-one was appointed organist of the chapel-royal. In 1622 he was honoured at Oxford with a doctor's degree, in consequence of the strong recommendation of the learned Camden. Previously to this he had published Madrigals of five parts for voices and viols, London, 1612; but the most valuable of his works, which are still in constant use among the best productions of the kind, are his compositions for the church, consisting of services and anthems. Of the latter, the most celebrated is his "Hosanna." He also composed the tunes to the hymns and songs of the church, translated by George Withers, as appears by the dedication to king James I. In 1625, being commanded, ex officio, to attend the solemnity of the marriage of his royal master Charles I. with the princess Henrietta of France, at Canterbury, for which occasion he had composed the music, he was seized with the small-pox, and dying on Whitsunday, in the same year, was buried in that cathedral. — His son, Dr. Christopher Gibbons, was also honoured with the notice of Charles I. and was of his chapel. At the restoration, besides being appointed principal organist of the chapel royal, private organist to his majesty, and organist of Westminster-abbey, he obtained his doctor's degree in music at Oxford, in consequence of a letter written by his majesty Charles II. himself in his behalf in 1664. His compositions, which were not numerous, seem never to have enjoyed a great degree of favour; and though some of them are preserved in the Museum collections, they have long ceased to be performed in our cathedrals. — Orlando Gibbons had also two brothers, Edward and Ellis, the one organist of Bristol, and the other of Salisbury. Edward was a Cambridge bachelor of music, and incorporated at Oxford, 1592. Besides being organist of Bristol, he was priest-vicar, sub-chanter, and master of the choristers in that cathedral. He was sworn a gentleman of the chapel, March 21, 1604, and was the master of Matthew Lock. In the Triumphs of Oriana, there are two madrigals, the one in five, and the other in six parts, composed by Ellis Gibbons. Of Edward Gibbons, it is said, that in the time of the rebellion he assisted king Charles I. with the sum of one thousand pounds; for which instance of his loyalty, he was afterwards very severely treated by those in power, who deprived him of a considerable estate, and thrust him and three grand-children out of his house, though he was more than fourscore years of age.