Caswall, Edward


b Yateley, Hants 1814, d Edgbaston (nr Birmingham), Warwicks 1878. 4th son of the Vicar of Yateley; Chigwell Grammar Sch, Essex; Marlborough Coll, Wilts; Brasenose Coll Oxford (BA 1836, MA). As a student he issued a witty academic pamphlet ‘after the fashion of Aristotle’. He was ordained (CofE) in 1838; served in the parishes of Bishop’s Norton nr Gloucester; Milverton nr Warwick; and from 1840 at Stratford-sub-Castle, nr Salisbury. But in 1846, in his early 30s, he resigned his living, and a few months later became a Roman Catholic, Jan 1847. From then on his work of translating Lat hymns, already well advanced, gathered momentum; he published nearly 200 in Lyra Catholica (etc) in 1848, and ten years later The Masque of Mary and other poems. Other books of verse and drama followed. Widowed in 1849, he moved to J H Newman’s ‘Oratory’ in Birmingham, where in 1852 he was ordained as an RC. He remained there for the rest of his life; his collected hymns and poems were published posthumously, with a biographical preface, in 1908. He became one of those Roman converts of whom Ellerton, possibly a little biased, judged that ‘it can scarcely be said that they contributed much to the strength of the church of their adoption’. Of the 250 English hymn texts in The Westminster Hymnal of 1912, more than 50 are by Caswall, mostly translations. He is often the best-represented RC author in protestant hymn-books (5 in CH2004, 12 in The BBC Hymn Book of 1951, 9 in the 1965 Anglican Hymn Book and 13 in Common Praise 2000). As a Victorian hymntranslator he has been praised for the ‘great spirit and facility’ of his work; he ranks second only to the masterly and generally more accurate J M Neale, qv. Nos.217, 337, 347, 376, 421, 741.