Cummings, W(illiam) H(ayman)
- Hugh J. McLean
(b Sidbury, Devon, Aug 22, 1831; d London, June 6, 1915). English tenor, musical administrator and church musician. He was a chorister of St Paul’s Cathedral, where in 1838 he sang at the funeral of the cathedral organist, Thomas Attwood. But Attwood’s successor, William Hawes, treated the boys so harshly that Cummings’s father found him a place in the choir of the Temple Church. He sang alto in the first London performance (16 April 1847) of Elijah under Mendelssohn. A few months later he became organist of Waltham Abbey on the recommendation of his teacher, E.J. Hopkins, the Temple organist. Cummings’s adaptation of a theme from Mendelssohn’s Festgesang (1840) to ‘Hark! the herald angels sing’ dates from this time. His love of singing outweighing his interest in the organ, he became tenor at the Temple Church and later at the Chapel Royal. His only singing teacher was J.W. Hobbs, a lay clerk at Westminster Abbey, whose daughter Clara he subsequently married. Until about ...