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date: 15 December 2019

Gray, Jonathanlocked

  • Nicholas Temperley


(b York, Aug 3, 1779; d York, Dec 11, 1837). English amateur musician, grandfather of Alan Gray. He was a central figure in the transformation of parish church music during the first half of the 19th century. He belonged to a prominent York family. A lawyer by profession, and an alderman of York, he was involved in many local issues, in politics (as a supporter of Pitt and Wilberforce), and in the evangelical party of the Church of England. He was gifted in literature, architecture, astronomy and music. From about 1810 he played the organ at the popular Sunday evening services at St Saviour's, York. He founded the Yorkshire Gazette in 1819 and wrote some of its musical articles. He was a prominent member of the York Musical Society from 1811, and in 1833 was elected the first president of the York Choral Society.

Gray believed that the old-fashioned metrical psalmody was inadequate as an expression of evangelical religion. He used his very considerable influence to introduce congregational chanting of the prose psalms, and hymns with uplifting texts and inspiring tunes. With his legal knowledge he was able to contest successfully the argument that the Old and New Versions were the only verses authorized for use in church. He added his own selection of hymns (York, ...

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