Jarman, Thomas

Composer

b Clipston, Northants (nr Market Harborough), 1776, d Clipston 1861. Following his father into the tailoring trade, he still made time for much music, largely self-taught by the Tonic Sol-Fa method. He belonged to the choir at his local Baptist chapel and came to lead it, playing various instruments and developing a gift for composition. Around 1840 he was in charge of music at the Methodist Chapel at Leamington, Warwicks, where he stayed for 6 or 7 years before returning to Clipston; his grave is in the chapel burial ground of his home town. Among his works were hymn tunes, anthems and canticle settings, some designed for special local occasions, which reached wide publication; his publishers sometimes helped him financially when his tailoring was inevitably neglected. He produced at least 17 tune-collections, from c1803 onwards with Sacred Music; he also became a choir trainer and singing teacher: ‘a man of commanding presence and endowed with a gift of irony which many choirs found to their cost’—Cliff Knight. The 1837 Choir Festival at the nearby village of Naseby was one of his memorable successes. His last known composition was A New Ode on Peace with Russia (1856). Described by W Milgate as ‘an interesting example of the old-time village musician’, he nevertheless composed one immortal tune which ironically became a badge of Methodism (one of his books was The Wesleyan Methodist) as also of wider evangelical use. The composer’s 1803 book which launched it set it to While shepherds watched; see the note to 324 in EP1. No.324.