A Music Maker

In the 1751 rate assessment described in the last posting on the blog, one of the residents of the High Street was William Knapp, the Parish Clerk of St. James. Probably a glove maker by trade, Knapp became Clerk in 1739. He was also a talented musician and taught several church choirs in the towns and villages around Poole, for whom he began to compose hymns.

William Knapp

In 1738, he published his collection of hymns, entitled ‘A Sett of New Psalm-Tunes and Anthems’. It must have been a success because another edition was published only 3 years later and widely distributed. This second edition contained a guide to reading music and singing exercises – quite a new idea at the time – based on his experience with local choirs. In 1753, he brought out ‘A New Church Melody’ with more hymn tunes including a version of ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night’.

He named his tunes after local places including Longfleet, Kinson, Canford and of course Poole. His best known tune today is probably ‘Wareham’ sung with the words ‘Jesus where’er thy people meet’. Knapp died in 1768 at the good age of 70 and is buried inPoole.

See the article at: West Gallery Music Association

About Poole High Street Project

Contact: Jenny Oliver - j.oliver48@btinternet.com
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