Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Imogen Holst

Letter No.: 
[Autumn 1929]

13 Cheyne Walk
Chelsea, S.W.

Dear Imogen

I wonder if you would care to have a shot at setting the enclosed words as a hymn - perhaps you can’t stand them!
They need not be “hymny” - but shd be simple & able to be sung without the music - compass between C & E flat. Unison I shd think - but that is just as you like.  I shd think one continuous setting wd be best - but again as you like - or in 2 verses - or repeat the 1st 2 lines as a refrain.2
Yrs sincerely

R. Vaughan Williams

1. Imogen Holst was at the Royal College of Music at this time and started studying ‘paper work’ with VW in September 1928.  See Rosamund Strode’s obituary article ‘Imogen Holst’, The Royal College of Music Magazine, lxxx (1984), pp.69-72. It is possible however that the request relates to the two tunes by Imogen Holst, Estains Parva and Mells, which were included in the first edition of Songs of Praise (but removed in the second edition), which would put the letter to 1925 or earlier, but pending examination of the music this doesn’t seem likely.
2. This is interesting as a good example of VW the teacher at work.

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