The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Sir John Goss


John Goss was an English composer, chiefly of English cathedral music and hymnody. His position in the London musical world was an influential one as a teacher, writer, composer and critic.

He was born December 27, 1800, Fareham, Hampshire, England.

He was elected a chorister of the Chapel Royal in 1811 where he studied with John Stafford Smith. In 1816, on the breaking of his voice, he began studying composition under Thomas Attwood (or Atwood), organist of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

A few early compositions exist which were published before 1825 - some for the theatre and some glees, including his well-regarded, five-part glee "Ossians Hymn to the Sun."

In 1824, Goss was appointed organist of St Luke's, Chelsea, succeeding Lyte who had been appointed to a curate in Lower Brixham.

Upon the death of Attwood in 1838, Goss became organist of St Paul's Cathedral and he wrote many of his anthems and hymn-tunes for special services in the Cathedral. He kept the post until 1872, when he resigned and was knighted by Queen Victoria.

While at St. Luke's and St. Paul's, Goss was also Professor of Harmony at the Royal Academy of Music. He held that post for 47 years.

In 1876, Cambridge University awarded him a Doctor of Music degree.

His church music includes some fine compositions, such as the anthems "O Taste And See" and "O Saviour Of The World." Several of his Psalms are still used, including Psalms 89, 91, 127 and 128. In "The Hymnal 1982" his Lauda anima was used as the setting for the hymn "Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven" (#410).

Two of his Christmas compositions still used are See Amid The Winterís Snow and Infant Holy, Infant Lowly (recording available at Guild Music). His Arthur's Seat was used as the setting for Behold A Little Child in "The Hymnal 1940" (#237).

He died at Brixton, London, on May 10, 1880 and is buried in St. Paul's Cathedral.



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