Gauntlett, Henry John

Composer

b Wellington, Shropshire 1805, d Kensington, W London (Middx) 1876. Organist at the age of 9 at Olney, Bucks, where his father was vicar, a distant successor to John Newton qv. He was choirmaster there, 1819–25. Persuaded by his father to study law, he became a solicitor in London 1831–46, while also organist at St Olave’s Southwark (which later became the cathedral) and evening organist at Christ Ch Newgate St, from 1836. He gave up his profession in 1846 to became a full-time musician. In that year he was chosen by Mendelssohn to play the organ at Birmingham for the premiere of his oratorio Elijah; in 1852 he became organist at Union Chapel Islington, N London, collaborating with the minister Dr Henry Allon in compiling The Congregational Psalmist (1858 and 1861). Further London appointments were at parish churches in Notting Hill, 1861–63, and Smithfield, 1872–76. A plainchant enthusiast, he wrote about church music, edited several hymnals and composed organ music, songs, anthems and thousands of hymn tunes—some say as many as 10,000. Working with the organ-builder William Hill he influenced the design of several large instruments. Lambeth MusD 1842. Nos.211=671, 372, 387, 465, 529, 622, 641=903, 767=875, 864, 886.