Robert Bridges

23 October 1844–21 April 1930


ROBERT (SEYMOUR) BRIDGES, M.A., M.B., F.R.C.P. (Isle of Thanet, 1844–1930, Boar’s Hill, Oxford), son of a Kentish squire, was educated at Eton and Corpus Christi College, Oxford (Hon. Fellow). On leaving the University he travelled on the Continent and in the East, then studied medicine at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. On qualifying, he became casualty physician there, and physician at the Great Northern Hospital, and also carried on general practice. He gave up practice in 1882 and settled at Yattendon in Berkshire, and devoted himself to literature, in which he had already made his mark as a poet of unusual and highly distinctive gifts. He was appointed Poet Laureate in 1913.

He was a scholar of great learning, both in ancient and modern letters, and a highly skilled and cultivated musician. His Eros and Psyche is dedicated to the celestial spirit of Henry Purcell, and in The Christian Captives he introduces the music of Anerio and Allegri. He wrote an oratorio, Eden, which Sir C.V. Stanford set to music. And his Yattendon Hymnal—issued in installments (words and music) of 40 pages, till the 100 hymns were completed in 1899—is, both in words and music, easily the most distinguished of individual pioneer contributions to modern hymnody.

by Percy Dearmer
Songs of Praise Discussed (1933)

Robert Bridges, photo by M.G. Perkins (1913), National Portrait Gallery, London.

Featured Hymns:

O gladsome light

Collections of Hymns & Poems:


First Series (1873): PDF
Second Series (1879): PDF
Third Series (1880): WorldCat
Fourth Series (1882/4): WorldCat

The Growth of Love (1876): WorldCat

Prometheus the Firegiver: A Mask in the Greek Manner (1883): PDF

Shorter Poems 

1st ed., Books 1-IV (1890): PDF
2nd ed., Books I-IV (1891): PDF
3rd ed., Books I-V (1893)
4th ed., Books I-V (1894): PDF

The Humours of the Court: A Comedy, and Other Poems (1893): WorldCat

Eros and Psyche: A Poem in Twelve Measures

1st ed. (1885): PDF
Rev. ed. (1894): PDF

Hymns: The Yattendon Hymnal (Hymns in Four Parts)

Part 1: Nos. 1-25 (1895): WorldCat
Part 2: Nos. 1-50 (1897): WorldCat
Part 3: Nos. 1-75 (1898)
Complete, Nos. 1-100 (1899): WorldCat
[2nd Edition] (1905): Google Books
[3rd Edition] (1920): HathiTrust

Shorter Poems: New Poems (1899): WorldCat

Demeter: A Mask (1905): PDF

Ibant Obscuri: An Experiment in the Classical Hexameter (1916): PDF

October and Other Poems (1920): PDF

The Tapestry: Poems (1925): WorldCat

New Verse (1926): HathiTrust

The Testament of Beauty (1929): PDF

Collected Works:

Poetical Works, 1st ed.

Volume 1 (1898): PDF
Volume 2 (1899): PDF
Volume 3 (1901): PDF
Volume 4 (1902): PDF
Volume 5 (1902): PDF
Volume 6 (1905): PDF

The Poetical Works of Robert Bridges, 2nd ed. with The Testament of Beauty (1936): WorldCat

Related Resources:

Robert Bridges, A Practical Discourse on Some Principles of Hymn-Singing (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1901): PDF

Catherine Phillips, Robert Bridges: A Biography (Oxford: University Press, 1992): WorldCat

Catherine Phillips, “Robert Seymour Bridges,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

J.R. Watson, “Robert Bridges,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:

Robert Bridges,