Henry John Gauntlett

Henry John Gauntlett (9 July 1805, Wellington, Shropshire – 21 February 1876, London) was an English organist and songwriter known in British music circles for his authorship of a large number of hymns and other pieces for the organ.

He became the organist at his father’s church, St Peter & St Paul Olney,at the age of nine. He was intended for a career in law and remained a lawyer until he was almost forty years of age, when he abandoned the profession and devoted himself to music.

He was organist at a number of leading London churches, St Olave’s in Tooley Street, Southwark from 1827 to 1846 where he designed a new grand organ which was built, installed and perfected to his satisfaction between 1844 and March 1846, and Union Chapel, Islington from 1852 – 1861.

Henry John Gauntlett

Eventually the degree of Mus. Doc. was conferred on him by the Archbishop of Canterbury, he being the first to receive such a degree from that quarter for over 200 years. He did much to raise the standard of church music both mechanically and musically.

In 1852, he patented an “electrical-action apparatus” for organs. He wrote much music and over 1,000 hymn tunes, and edited a large number of hymn books. His most famous tune is “Irby”, the tune to which the children’s carol, “Once in Royal David’s City” is usually sung.