Ralph Vaughan Williams

12 October 1872—26 August 1958

Ralph Vaughan Williams, photo by Herbert Lambert (ca. 1923), National Portrait Gallery (London).

DR. RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, O.M., died at his home in London on 26 August at the age of eighty-five. The world of music mourns his passing, yet one is glad and grateful that he was able to live so long and so full a life; one, moreover, that was so rich in achievement. He was a Gloucestershire man, born at Down Ampney on 12 October 1872, and all his life he had the look and the manner of a countryman. His utterance was downright, his views were robust. In his music he expressed the essential spirit of England as perhaps no other composer has ever done before. He was never one to inhabit an ivory tower; he took an active part in music-making, and an active interest in all causes in which he believed. He went on writing music of an astonishing freshness and vitality to the day of his death; his Ninth Symphony was produced only last April. He was a great man as well as a great musician; revered and beloved wherever he was known. His life and work are familiar to all who, in Purcell’s phrase, “carry musical souls about them.”

The Musical Times
October 1958

Featured Tunes:

as composer:


as arranger:


see also:


Collections of Hymns and Tunes:

The English Hymnal

1st ed. (1906)
Rev. ed. (1933)

Church Songs (1911): WorldCat

Songs of Praise

1st ed. (1925)
Enlarged (1931)

Oxford Book of Carols (1928)

Songs of Praise for Boys and Girls (1929): WorldCat

Hymns for Sunday School Anniversaries and Other Special Occasions (1930): WorldCat

Songs of Praise for Little Children (1932): WorldCat

Songs of Praise for Children (1933): WorldCat

The Daily Service (1936): WorldCat

The Children’s Church (1936): WorldCat

English Traditional Carols (1954): WorldCat

see also:

Five Mystical Songs (1911): Archive.org


A.E.F. Dickinson, “The Vaughan Williams Manuscripts,” Musical Review, vol. 23 (1962), pp. 177–94.

Alain Frogley, “Vaughan Williams and the New World: Manuscript Sources in North American Libraries,” Notes, vol. 48 (June 1992), pp. 1175–92.

Life & Works:

Edwin Evans, “Modern British Composers: Vaughan Williams,” The Musical Times, vol. 61, nos. 926-928 (April–June 1920), pp. 232–4, 302–5, 371–4: JSTOR

A.H. Fox Strangways, “Ralph Vaughan Williams,” Music & Letters, vol. 1, no. 2 (April 1920), pp. 78–86: JSTOR

A.E.F. Dickinson, An Introduction to the Music of R. Vaughan Williams (London, 1928): WorldCat

Hubert J. Foss, Ralph Vaughan Williams (London: 1950): WorldCat

“Tributes to Vaughan Williams,” The Musical Times, vol. 99, no. 1388 (October 1958), pp. 535-539: JSTOR

Ursula Vaughan Williams, R.V.W.: A Biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams (Oxford: University Press, 1964): Amazon

Michael Kennedy, A Catalogue of the Works of Ralph Vaughan Williams, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 1996): WorldCat

“Obituaries from the national press,” Journal of the RVW Society, no. 12 (June 1998), pp. 8-9: PDF

Music & Hymnody:

Francis Toye, “Studies in English Music: Vaughan Williams and the Folk Music Movement,” The Listener, vol. 5, no. 128 (24 July 1931), p. 1057.

Ralph Vaughan Williams, “Some Reminiscences of the English Hymnal,” The First Fifty Years: A Brief Account of The English Hymnal from 1906 to 1956 (Oxford: University Press, 1956), pp. 2-5: WorldCat

“The English Hymnal, 1906–1956,” HSGBI Bulletin, vol. 4, no. 2 (Summer 1956), pp. 17-26.

A.E.F. Dickinson, “Vaughan Williams’s Musical Editorship,” HSGBI Bulletin, vol. 4, no. 12 (Winter 1959), pp. 188-190.

Ralph Vaughan Williams, “The Influence of Folk-Song on the Music of the Church,” National Music and Other Essays, 2nd ed. (Oxford: University Press, 1987), pp. 74-82: Amazon

John Bawden, “Vaughan Williams and the Hymnals: A New Perspective,” Journal of the RVW Society, no. 29 (February 2004), pp. 4-11: PDF

Alan Luff, ed., Strengthen For Service: 100 Years of The English Hymnal (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2005): WorldCat

James Dickinson, “The English Hymnal,” HSGBI Bulletin, vol. 18, no. 5 (January 2007), pp. 152-165.

Hugh Benham, “Thirteen original tunes by Ralph Vaughan Williams for The English Hymnal and Songs of Praise,” Journal of the RVW Society, no. 52 (October 2011).

Frank McManus, “Ralph Vaughan Williams and Songs of Praise,” Journal of the RVW Society, no. 52 (October 2011).

Adam Harvey, “English Folk Songs and Other Traditional Tunes in the Works of Ralph Vaughan Williams: A Checklist,” Journal of the RVW Society, no. 54 (June 2012).

Related Links:

Hugh Ottaway, rev. Alain Frogley, “Ralph Vaughan Williams,” Grove Music Online:

Julian Onderdonk, “Ralph Vaughan Williams,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:

Alain Frogley, “Ralph Vaughan Williams,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

Ralph Vaughan Williams, Hymnary.org:

Ralph Vaughan Williams Society: