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date: 15 November 2019

Foster, John(ii)locked

  • Sally Drage


( b Bentley, nr Doncaster, 1752; d High Green, nr Sheffield, Oct 4, 1822). English psalmodist . An amateur musician, he was by profession a coroner. He lived in High Green and (according to A. Gatty: A Life at One Living, 1884) was responsible for the suppression of dog- and cock-fighting. In the preface to his first book, Sacred Music, Consisting of Anthems, Psalms & Hymns (Sheffield, c1820), he described how he ‘devoted a few leisure hours to Musical Composition’ in order to encourage local choirs, and how in west Yorkshire, and the borders of adjacent counties, nearly every village had a choir, accompanied by instruments, some of which, in size and skill, approached ‘the dignity of an Oratorio’. A second book was also published (c1820). Foster's music needs competent performers; it is well written in a Classical style, and unusual in that it is fully scored with elaborate symphonies. His most ambitious setting, of Psalm xlvii (Old Version), requires an orchestra of strings, flute, oboes, bassoon, horns, trumpet and drums, and survives in mutated versions as part of the Sheffield pub-carolling tradition, where it is known as ‘Old Foster’ and sung to ...

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