The King Charles Lecture
Given annually on a topic relating to Charles I and his times.
Saturday 30 January 2021, at 2:30pm, with Dr Simon Jackson
‘Sweetest of Sweets’? George Herbert and the music of the seventeenth-century church
George Herbert (1593-1633) was a poet with a profound love of music, and church music in particular, who regularly attended choral services at Salisbury Cathedral which he described as his ‘Heaven on earth’. Yet the ‘proper form’ church music should take was a hotly-contested topic in the early seventeenth century–and one that would only take on more significance with the rise of Laudianism and the journey towards civil war in the years immediately following Herbert’s death in 1633. In the course of this talk, I will be exploring Herbert’s love of church music, and setting it in the context of the contemporary debate about the place of music in the church and Herbert’s own contributions to those arguments, to try to understand better his affection for what he describes in his poetry as this ‘Sweetest of sweets’.
Dr Simon Jackson is Director of Music and Bye-Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and Director of Studies in English Literature at Hughes Hall Cambridge, and Organist and Director of Music at Little St Mary’s Church in Cambridge. His doctoral thesis, on the literary and musical activities of George Herbert and his extended family, was awarded the International George Herbert Society Chauncey Wood Prize, and he is currently working on a book on the topic.