Please turn your hymnals to number 118 and join with the clarinets in, “Spirit of Mercy”.
First Line: Spirit of Mercy
Tempo: With devotion
Music: William Gladstone, 1840-91
Text: London Foundling Hospital Collection, 1774
Clarinet Arrangement: 118-Spirit_of_Mercy
Son of a Prime Minister, Member of Parliament, and Football player!
Talk about a fortunate son! Most of our usual suspect hymn composers, even most Anglicans, were not so well off!
Gladstone was born in Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales. He attended Eton College and read Greek and Latin at Christ Church, Oxford University. He was a Member of Parliament for a total of 20 years, representing Chester for 3, Whitby for 12 and East Worcestershire for 5. A singer and organist, he was well versed in musical history, especially the development of Anglican church music. He wrote on musical topics, and one of the views he expressed was that choral church services were to be deplored because “the choirs often discourage the congregations from singing.” He wrote the anthems “Gracious and Righteous” and “Withdraw Not Thou,” and chants, anthems, introits and organ voluntaries. He composed the hymn tunesHammersmith, to which Dear Lord and Father of Mankind is sometimes set, and Ombersley, sometimes used for Lord of All Being, Throned Afar.
William played for Scotland in the first unofficial England v Scotland Football International in 1870. He was one of two sitting Members of Parliament to play for Scotland in this match, the other being John Wingfield Malcolm, MP for Boston.
When his mother’s brother Sir Stephen Glynne died without heirs in 1874, the Glynne baronetcy became extinct, but William inherited the Glynne estates, including Hawarden Castle, which had in any case been the Gladstone’s family home since his grandfather Sir John Gladstone had used some of his substantial fortune to rescue the Glynne family from bankruptcy in the 1840s. He was appointed High Sheriff of Flintshire for 1888.