Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Reverend James Welch

Letter No.: 
VWL1932
Sept 8 [1944]

From R. Vaughan Williams,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,
Dorking.

Dear Dr Welch1

I am glad to understand that you approve of the words of my Victory Anthem.2
May I venture to make one or two suggestions about the music for the rest of the Service? I hope we shall have “O God our help” and “All people” and I hope the Old Hundredth will be sung in its proper version with the long notes at the end of each line. I would not mention this but for the fact that at St Paul’s Cathedral at a Thanksgiving service a few years ago the tune was sung in its square form - all minims. This caused me much dismay. Nor would I mention the matter of hymns at all to you, but for something that happened, I am sure without your sanction, on the day of our invasion of Normandy. The hymn chosen after the 7.55 am sermon on that day was not played through as usual but was sung with great pomp by a full choir and the hymn sung was ‘Ein’ feste Burg’!3  I could hardly believe my ears.
Yours sincerely

R. Vaughan Williams4


1. Director of Religious Broadcasting at the BBC. See R.V.W.: a biography,  p.261.
2. Sent to Welch on 23rd October 1943 – see VWL1813.
3. The Lutheran hymn usually translated as ‘A stronghold sure’.
4. For Welch's reply see VWL1933.

Location of original letter:

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/15, ff.113-115
Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 437
Original database number: 
440908