John Stainer’s Contributions to Sacred Music During the Romantic Era

Marquita Capparuccia Someliana-Lauer


Sir John Stainer (1840-1901) was a prominent British musician and scholar of the 19th century. His contributions to music, especially in ecclesiastical settings are vast. This research highlights and discusses some of his main accomplishments and contributions, and how they relate to the era of Romantic music. This research also seeks to delve into why his work was of consequence to the development of music during the Romantic era, particularly in regards to sacred music. To fully justify why Stainer is significant as a composer, this paper investigates aspects of his organ, choral works, and service music and how they impacted the realm of music at his time. Works that are specifically discussed are his well-known cantata, The Crucifixion and his anthem, For God So Loved the World. Various other anthems, carols and service music are also mentioned. Audio examples of specific works are also included. Methodology predominantly consists of primary and secondary sources, and independent score study and analysis.

Additionally explored are facets of Stainer’s musical career (especially at St. Paul’s Cathedral). Stainer is considered to have substantially raised the standard for cathedral music and choir schools, especially in England. He set a precedence of excellence in cathedral music. This is notable because the advances that he made in Anglican sacred music are still very much relevant today. His works continue to be used and studied in church, choral, academic and concert settings.


John Stainer, Romantic, Sacred Music

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