Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Elvey, Stephen

ELVEY, STEPHEN (1805–1860), organist and composer, was the elder brother and for some time the musical instructor of Sir George Elvey. Stephen was born in June 1805, at Canterbury, and received his training as chorister of the cathedral under Highmore Skeats. In 1830 he succeeded Bennett as organist of New College, Oxford, and won repute for his skilful playing. He became Mus. Bac. Oxon. 1831, and Mus. Doc. 1838. He was organist of St. Mary's (University) Church, and from 1846 organist of St. John's College. While Dr. Crotch held simultaneously the offices of professor of music and choragus at Oxford, Elvey acted as his deputy in all professorial matters for some years before Crotch died at the end of 1847. In 1848 the offices were divided. Sir Henry Bishop becoming professor, and Dr. Elvey choragus. He retained his appointments until his death, October 1800, at the age of fifty-five.

Elvey made a few but not unimportant contributions to sacred music. The well-known 'Evening Service in continuation of Croft's Morning Service in A,' since re-edited by Dr. Martin, dates from about 1825, when Elvey was lay-clerk at Canterbury Cathedral. The 'Oxford Psalm Book,' 1852, containing six original tunes, was inspired by the 'increasing attention to music shown by the congregational character of the singing before university sermons,' and 'The Psalter, or Canticles and Psalms of David, Pointed for Chanting upon a Now Principle,' 1856, followed by 'The Canticles,' 1858, have gone through many editions. The author's earnest care and tact in these compilations helped to effect improvement in the conduct of the services of the established church.

[Stephen Elvey's Musical Works, mentioned above; Oxford Calendars: Alumni Oxonienses; Gent. Mag., 1860, ccix. 557; Jackson's Oxford Journal, 12 Feb. 1848; Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 487]

L. M. M.