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Thomas Clark

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Alias: Thomas Clark of Canterbury


Born: 1775

Died: 1859


Thomas Clark was "conductor of the music at the Wesleyan Chapel, Canterbury, and latterly of the Unitarian Chapel, Canterbury". He was a boot and shoe maker by trade, but became one of the most prolific English psalmodists of the early nineteenth century.

His early musical works include nine sets of psalm tunes 'with symphonies and an instrumental bass', and twelve sets of 'psalm and hymn tunes'. In later years he edited the Union Tune Book for the Sunday School Union. He is also credited by William Marsh for his 'kind assistance in correcting the HARMONY' of Marsh's collection A Set of New Psalm and Hymn Tunes (London: 1816).

An obituary published on p448 of The Christian reformer; or, Unitarian magazine and review in 1859 (vol. 15) reads:

'May 30, at Canterbury, aged 84, Mr. THOMAS CLARK, well known throughout the Nonconformist body, and beyond it, as a composer of sacred music. He was by trade a shoemaker, and worked at his business till about twenty years since. He had received but a scanty education, but was an incessant reader, especially in history and theology. Both his taste and his passion for music were extraordinary. While hammering at the lapstone or lying awake in the night, melodies were suggested to him which, casting aside the implements of his trade or leaping directly out of bed, he at once committed to paper, and added the harmonies when he had greater leisure. It would almost seem as if this love for one of the most delightful of all arts, and capability of excelling in it, were literally born with him; for he never received a lesson on the theory of music in his life. He published at various times nearly twenty volumes of anthems and hymns, besides editing various collections; and has left behind him a great store of MS. music, among which it is not unlikely that some of his best compositions may be found. In private as in public life, Mr. Clark bore a blameless character; and died with the respect, not only of his co-religionists, but of all his fellow-citizens. He was a member of the Unitarian congregation assembling in the Blackfriars' chapel, Canterbury, where he had conducted the music for more than half a century.'

View the Wikipedia article on Thomas Clark.

List of choral works

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Anthems (including collect settings)

Set-pieces (through-composed settings of metrical texts)

  • Firm was my health, my day was bright
  • Guide me, O thou great Jehovah
  • Happy the heart where graces reign
  • He comes, he comes, the Judge severe
  • Hear me, O Lord, in mercy hear
  • I will extol thee, Lord, on high
  • Lord, what a wretched land is this
  • Mortals awake, with angels join   ( Icon_pdf.gif Icon_snd.gif Sibelius 7 )
  • My hiding place, my refuge tower
  • O praise the Lord in that blest place
  • Sing to the Lord a new-made song
  • When I can read my title clear
  • Ye nations round the earth rejoice


Other works

  • Chants
  • Praise God from whom all blessings flow (canon)
  • Responses to the Commandments
  • Sanctus

Metrical psalm and hymn tunes

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External links