The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Richard Runciman Terry

1865- 1938

English organist and musical scholar, Sir Richard Runciman Terry was born in Ellington, Northumberland, 3 Jan 1865; the eldest child of Thomas Terry (a schoolmaster, born 1837) and Marion Jane Ballard Terry (1838-1875, the eldest daughter of Walter RUNCIMAN 1810-1878).

He became organist and music master at Elstow School in 1890, organist and choirmaster of St John's Cathedral, Antigua, in 1892, and in 1896 was appointed to a similar post at Downside Abbey, Somerset, where he began his work of reviving the music written for the Latin ritual by early English composers. He was the first to perform liturglcally the three- and five-part masses by Byrd, Tye's Euge bone, Tallis's four-part Mass and Lamentations, Mundy's Mass Upon the Square and motets by Morley, Parsons, White and others. When Westminster Cathedral was built he was appointed organist and director of music, a post which he held with great distinction from 1901 until 1924, when he resigned after increasing criticism of his bold choice of works.

Terry was able to establish at Westminster Cathedral a tradition of musical treatment for the whole of the Roman liturgy in England based on the principles laid down in the Motu proprio, so that the Use of Westminster offered an example to Roman Catholic church musicians unequalled anywhere outside Rome itself. He set a high standard of performance and demonstrated the great wealth of English liturglcal music of the finest period. He revived Peter Philips's Cantiones sacrae, Byrd's Gradualia and Cantiones sacrae, the Cantiones of Tallis and Byrd, White's Lamentations, and motets by Dering, Fayrfax, Sheppard, Tye and others. He also performed the fourth volume of Jacob Handl's Opus musicum.

Terry did much editorial work, especially of early English church music (e.g. Byrd's Mass for five voices, London, 1935; 24 motets in Novello's series of Tudor motets, London, 1937). He also published modern editions of Calvin's first psalter of 1539 (London, 1932) and the Scottish Psalter of 1635 (London, 1935). He was the first chairman of the Carnegle Trust's editorial committee for Tudor Church Music, and his Westminster Hymnal (London, 1912, rev. 3/1916, 7/1937) was for many years the standard hymnal for Roman Catholic use in Britain. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music (MusD) by Durham in 1911 and knighted in 1922.

He died in London, 18 April 1938.

Source: New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Collections from Rev. Terry:

Twelve Christmas Carols
London: J. Curwen & Sons, Ltd., 1912; With music.

Old Christmas Carols
London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., n.d., ca. 1923; With music.

Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols
London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1931; With Music

A Medieval Carol Book
London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1932; With Music

Two Hundred Folk Carols
London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933; With Music

Note: Rev. Terry has a page at the Choral Public Domain Library (Richard R. Terry), which contains the arrangements of two of his compositions:

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