Weldon, John (DNB00)

WELDON, JOHN (1676–1736), musician, was born at Chichester on 19 Jan. 1676. He was educated at Eton College, and also studied music there under the organist, John Walter. Subsequently he had lessons from Henry Purcell. In 1694 he became organist of New College, Oxford. He was one of the contributors to Francis Smith's ‘Musica Oxoniensis,’ 1698. At the competition in 1700 for the best setting of Congreve's masque, ‘The Judgment of Paris,’ the first prize of 100l. was awarded to Weldon; but the work was not published, although John Eccles [q. v.] and Daniel Purcell [q. v.], the second and third prize winners, issued their settings. The only number of Weldon's now preserved is the air of Juno, ‘Let ambition fire thy mind,’ which was adapted by Thomas Augustine Arne [q. v.] to the duet, ‘Hope, thou nurse of young desire,’ in the opera ‘Love in a Village;’ Burney says (1788) no air was ‘in greater favour than this at present.’ On 6 Jan. 1701 Weldon was sworn in a gentleman extraordinary of the Chapel Royal, and in 1702 he resigned his post at Oxford. On the death of John Blow [q. v.] in 1708, Weldon obtained the post of organist in the Chapel Royal; and he also held the same post at St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street. Tillotson had recommended that a second composer should be appointed at the Chapel Royal; this was first done by George I, and Weldon was sworn in for the place on 8 Aug. 1715. Soon after his institution he composed music for the communion service, which was very seldom set after the Restoration, until the Oxford movement. The ‘Sanctus’ and ‘Gloria’ were edited by Rimbault for the ‘Choir and Musical Record,’ September 1864. In 1726 he became organist of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. He died on 7 May 1736, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Paul, Covent Garden. At the Chapel Royal he was succeeded by William Boyce [q. v.], at St. Martin's by Joseph Kelway [q. v.]

Weldon composed much sacred and secular music. He contributed to a collection of solos for flutes (or violins) which was reprinted at Amsterdam, but seems to have in general neglected instrumental music. He gave concerts at York Buildings, and a collection of songs performed there was published; also a collection of songs with violin and flute accompaniments, and many single songs. Specially popular among these was ‘From Grave Lessons,’ which is printed by Hawkins. In sacred music Weldon was still more successful; two of his anthems, ‘In Thee, O Lord,’ and ‘Hear my crying,’ were printed in Boyce's ‘Cathedral Music,’ and are still frequently performed. Others were printed in the collections of Arnold and Page. ‘Blessed art Thou’ was published in the ‘Parish Choir,’ vol. iii., and with Welsh words in J. Roberts's ‘Cerddor y Tonic Sol-fa.’ Weldon published only six solo anthems, which he had composed for the celebrated counter-tenor Richard Elford [q. v.], and entitled ‘Divine Harmony;’ but these have not maintained their place upon the repertory. Five pieces, arranged for the organ, were included in Vincent Novello's ‘Cathedral Voluntaries,’ 1831; and two others in A. H. Brown's ‘Organ Arrangements,’ 1879. The cheap editions of Novello and Curwen contain anthems by Weldon, both in staff notation and tonic sol-fa. Burney speaks very inappreciatively of Weldon's anthems, but time has shown he was wrong; and probably not a week passes without a performance of one or more.

[Hawkins's History of Music, chaps. cxlvi. clxiv.; Burney's History of Music, iii. 612 ff.; The Choir and Musical Record, May 1865, p. 430; Grove's Dict. of Music and Musicians, i. 71, iv. 435; Emil Vogel's Katalog der … Bibliothek zu Wolfenbüttel; Barrett's English Church Composers, pp. 112–16, contains a good account of Weldon's anthems, but a very exaggerated statement of his importance as an inventor of new harmonies; Cheque-book of the Chapel Royal (Camden Soc.), 1872; Davey's History of English Music, pp. 329, 345, 373; Weldon's compositions in the British Museum and Christ Church, Oxford.]

H. D.