Indelible Grace Hymnbook

John Darwall

Baptized: Jan­u­a­ry 13, 1731, Haugh­ton, Staf­ford­shire, Eng­land.

Died: De­cem­ber 18, 1789, Wal­sall, West Mid­lands, Eng­land.

Buried: Bath Street Bur­i­al Grounds, Wal­sall, West Mid­lands, Eng­land.

Darwall at­tend­ed Man­ches­ter Gram­mar School, and at age 14, en­tered Bras­e­nose Coll­ege at Ox­ford Un­i­ver­si­ty, grad­u­at­ing in 1756. He was ap­point­ed Cur­ate and lat­er Vi­car of St. Mat­thew’s Par­ish in Wal­sall, and lived the rest of his life there. An ac­comp­lished am­a­teur mu­sic­ian, he al­so wrote hymns and po­e­try, some of which he con­trib­ut­ed to the Gen­tle­man’s Mag­a­zine.

Darwall wrote ma­ny of the tunes for the New Ver­sion by Na­hum Tate and Ni­cho­las Bra­dy, but on­ly his mu­sic for Psalm 148 is in com­mon use to­day. It was com­posed and sung at the in­au­gu­ra­tion of a new or­gan at Wal­sall par­ish church, re­port­ed in an 1800 is­sue of Gen­tle­man’s Mag­a­zine:

In Whit week, 1773, some an­thems were per­formed by the Wals­all sing­ers in the Par­ish Church. Ad­mit­tance that day was paid for, and the or­gan was opened by Dr. Al­cock, of Lich­field, who then de­clared that it was a good in­stru­ment. And on the next Sun­day af­ter­noon, it was first played by Mr. Bal­am, our then or­gan­ist (who was blind, and had been a pu­pil of the cel­e­brat­ed Stan­ley). The first psalm was part of the 30th, New Ver­sion, Ux­bridge tune; and Mr. Dar­wall, our vi­car (who was him­self a mu­sic­al man), preached a ser­mon from Psalm cl: Praise Him with stringed in­stru­ments and or­gans. In this dis­course the preach­er, among other things, re­com­mend­ed psalm-tunes in quick­er time than was com­mon; as, he said, six vers­es might be sung in the same space of time that four gen­er­al­ly are. Af­ter the ser­mon the en­tire 150th Psalm, New Ver­sion, was sung, to a new tune of the vi­car’s com­pos­ing; and the whole con­clude­d with ap­prop­ri­ate pray­er and bless­ing.

Lightwood, p. 160

Source: The Cyber Hymnal