Church Harmony Sacred to Devotion (Joseph Stephenson)

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Joseph Stephenson's Church Harmony Sacred to Devotion is his first known published work: the collection ran to four editions, but only the third and fourth editions are known to be extant. Humphries and Smith indicate a date of 1757 for the first edition, published by James Rivington and James Fletcher (p275, Humphries & Smith, 1970).

Publication date and place: 1757 by James Rivington and James Fletcher in London

Church Harmony is a substantial collection of music in the tenor-led English country psalmody or 'West Gallery' style, including ten anthems, three Christmas hymns or carols, hymns for Easter and Whitsunday, a four-part canon, and 51 psalm tunes.

Commendatory letter by William Knapp

The prefatory matter to Church Harmony includes the text of a letter from William Knapp (who, like Stephenson, was active in Poole at the time, and who was already an established composer of country psalmody):

I have carefully examined the following Sheets and find it a Work compleatly done, A Work, done with great Judgment, Vivacity, and Sagaciousness, a Work, worthy the Perusal of the greatest Masters of Music; and the performance of the best of Choirs. I therefore recommend it to all lovers and Practitioners of Church Music.

Had this Excellent Performance made its appearance in the World some Years ago, I am very sensible it would not have met with that kind reception, nor the Approbation it deserves; Church Music not being so much in vogue nor understood (especially in Parish Churches) as at present.

But now it is arrived to that perfection, that there are but few Congregations where there is not a Choir Warbling forth Praises to the Almighty Being, in Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual Songs, and Melodious Anthems; with all which this Book will abundantly supply them. And I doubt not but it will meet with that kind Reception, Approbation, and Encouragement, it so Jusly deserves.

I am Reader your very Humble Servant
Wm Knapp.'

The letter indicates the target market for Church Harmony among parish churches, though Stephenson himself was associated with the Unitarian congregation at the Hill Street meeting house in Poole, and was later the clerk of this congregation. Similarly, the title page of Stephenson's later collection The Musical Companion described it as 'Compos'd for the Use of Country Choirs'.


Pages Description Text
011-3 An Anthem out of the 2d. Chap: of Luke for ye Nativity Behold, I bring you glad tidings
024-5 An Anthem out of the 40th Chap: of Isaiah. O Sion, that bringest good tidings
035-6 An Anthem out of the 102d. Psalm. A 4 Voce. Hear my prayer, O Lord
047-9 An Anthem out of the 100th Ps. Ver. Counter & Bass O be joyful in the Lord
059-11 An Anthem out of the 113th Psalm. A 4 Voce Praise the Lord, ye servants
0611 A Canon in the unison (4 Voce) Lord, tune my heart to sing thy praise
0712-15 An Anthem out of the 68th Psalm. A 3 Voce. Let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God
0815-17 An Anthem out of the 14th Chapr of Revelations for Funerals. 4 Vo: I heard a voice from heaven
0917-22 An Anthem out of the 104th Ps: Praise the Lord, O my soul
1023-25 A Coronation Anthem take out of the 21st Psalm. The King shall rejoice in thy strength
1126-27 An Anthem, Job 19th proper for Funerals I know my Redeemer liveth
1228 A Christmas Hymn. A 3 Voci. Hark, hark what news the angels bring
1328-29 A Carol or Redemption, the Wonder of Angels. A 4 Voci. Behold that splendour, hear the shout
1430 On Christmas Day Indulgent mercy with a look serene
1531 An Hymn for Easter Day. A 4 Voci. If angels sung a Saviour's birth
1632 An Hymn for Whitsunday. (A 4 Voce). He's come, let every knee be bent
1733 Ps. 1st. A 4 Voce. How blest is he who ne'er consents
1833 Ps. 2d. Ver. 7th. (A 4 Voce) Attend, O Earth, whilst I declare
1933 Ps. 3d. (A 4 Voce) How num'rous, Lord, of late are grown
2033 Ps. 4th. (A 4 Voce) O Lord, that art my righteous Judge
2134 Ps. 5th. (A 4 Voce) Lord, hear the voice of my complaint
2234 Ps. 6th. (A 4 Voce) Thy dreadful anger, Lord, restrain
2334 Ps. 7th. (A 4 Voce) O Lord my God, since I have placed
2434-35 Ps. 8th. (A 4 Voce) O thou to whom all creatures bow
2535 Ps. 9th. (A 4 Voce) To celebrate thy praise, O Lord
2635-36 Ps. 10th. A 4 Voce Thy presence why withdraw'st thou, Lord?
2736 Ps. 11th. 4 Voce Since I have placed my trust in God
2836 Ps. 12th. A 4 Voce Since godly men decay, O Lord
2936 Ps. 13th. A 4 Voce How long wilt thou forget me, Lord?
3037 Ps. 14th. (A 4 Voce) Sure wicked fools must needs suppose
3137 Ps. 15th. (A 4 Voce) Lord, who's the happy man that may
3237 A Canon 2 Parts in one Ps. 16th. My lot is fall'n in that blest land
3338 Ps. 17th. (A 4 Voce.) To my just plea and sad complaint
3438 Ps. 18th. (A 4 Voce) No change of times shall ever shock
3538-39 Ps. 19th. The heav'ns declare thy glory, Lord
3639 Ps. 20th. The Lord to thy request attend
3739 Ps. 21st. The King, O Lord, with songs of praise
3840 Ps. 22d. Ver. 25th. Thus in thy sacred courts will I
3940 Ps. 23d. The Lord himself, the mighty Lord
4040-41 Ps. 24th. Erect your heads, eternal gates
4141 Ps. 25th. To God, in whom I trust
4241-42 Ps. 26th. Judge me, O Lord, for I the paths
4342 Ps. 27th. Whom should I fear, since God to me
4442 Ps. 28th. O Lord, my rock, to thee I cry
4543 Ps. 29th. Ye princes that in might excel
4643 Ps. 30th. I'll celebrate thy praises, Lord
4743 Ps. 31st. Defend me, Lord, from shame
4843 Ps. 32d. He's blest whose sins have pardon gained
4944 Ps. 33d. Let all the just to God with joy
5044-45 Ps. 34th. Through all the changing scenes of life
5145 Ps. 35th. Against all those that strive with me
5245 Ps. 36th. Ver. 5. But, Lord, thy mercy, my sure hope
5345-46 Ps. 37th. Though wicked men grow rich or great
5446 Ps. 38th. Thy chast'ning wrath, O Lord, restrain
5546 Ps. 39th. Ver. 4th. Lord, let me know my term of days
5646-47 Ps. 40th. I waited meekly for the Lord
5747-48 Ps: 46th. God is our refuge in distress
5848 Ps: 50th by the Revd Dr Watts. A 3 Voci. The God of glory sends his summons forth
5948 Ps: 65th. A 4 Voci. Let all the lands with shouts of joy
6049 Ps: 67th. A 3 Voci. To bless thy chosen race
6149 Ps: 84th. O God of hosts, the mighty Lord
6249 Ps: 75th. To thee, O God, we render praise
6350 Psalm 90th. Ver. 3d. Thou turnest man, O Lord, to dust
6450 Ps. 97th. 2 Beats in each Bar Jehovah reigns, let all the earth
6550-51 Ps. 88th. To thee, my God and Saviour, I
6651 Ps. 149th. O praise ye the Lord, prepare your glad voice
6751 Ps. 140th. for time of War or Persecution Preserve me, Lord, from crafty foes


  • Humphries, C, and Smith, W. C., Music Publishing in the British Isles, 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell, 1970

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