Knight, Joseph Philip (DNB00)


KNIGHT, JOSEPH PHILIP (1812–1887), composer of songs, was the youngest son of Francis Knight, D.D., vicar of Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, where he was born 26 July 1812. He studied music under John Davis Corfe, organist of Bristol Cathedral, and began composing at the age of twenty, when he published a set of six songs under the name of ‘Philip Mortimer’ (1832). Among these were ‘Old Times,’ sung by Henry Phillips, and ‘Go, forget me,’ which became popular both here and in Germany. Under his own name, and in collaboration with Haynes Bayly, he subsequently produced very many songs, the most notable of which were ‘The Veteran’ and ‘She wore a wreath of roses.’ After these came, among other productions, a song, ‘The Parting,’ and a duet, ‘Let's take this world as some wide scene,’ words of both by Thomas Moore. In 1839 Knight visited America, and there composed his famous song ‘Rocked in the cradle of the deep,’ which will always be associated with Braham. On his return to England in 1841 he produced ‘Beautiful Venice,’ ‘Say, what shall my song be to-night?’ and ‘The Dream,’ words by the Hon. Mrs. Norton. Some years afterwards he took holy orders, and was appointed to the charge of St. Agnes in the Scilly Isles, where he remained for two years. He then married, and went to reside abroad, but finally returned to England and resumed composition. His death took place at Yarmouth, Norfolk, 1 June 1887. Knight's songs, duets, and trios number in all about two hundred. Many of these have enjoyed great popularity, but only ‘She wore a wreath of roses’ and ‘Rocked in the cradle of the deep’ seem likely to hold their ground. As a composer he had a remarkable command of pure English melody. He was an excellent organist, and was exceptionally skilful in extemporising.

[Grove's Dict. of Music; Brown's Dict. of Musicians.]

J. C. H.