Mystery hymn writers – SOLVED!

This is why I like the internet.

The first was F W Wetherell. He wrote “Mary Immaculate” – a rousing hymn often sung to Bach’s tune Liebster Emmanuel. But the hymnbooks had no dates for him. This sometimes indicates that he is contemporaneous with the hymnbook – but surely if he was published in a hymnbook in the late 1800s he couldn’t have been alive in 1964 when the same hymn appeared in the Living Parish Hymnbook, with his name misspelled as “Weatherell”?

See his tombstone.

In loving memory of Emma Jane Wetherell
wife of the Reverend F W Wetherell
who entered into rest the
27th day of February 1893 aged 50 years
also of the Reverend F W Wetherell
who entered into rest the
11th day of February 1903 aged 74 years

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord

F W Wetherell (1829-1903)

So, he wasn’t even Catholic! A clergyman of the Church of Ireland – a sort of Anglican/Episcopalian thing. His name also comes up in Irish Archaeological journals, maybe a clue as to his affection for old things. What F W stands for is still a mystery, but having dates is a huge step forward.

Next is J. O’Connor, another mysterious contributor to the 1964 Living Parish Hymnbook. He translated lots of hymns, but nowhere is there a date. But in 2007 Wiley-Blackwell scanned in an old copy of the journal “New Blackfriars” John O’Connor. Unfortunately my curiousity tonight has not been sufficient for me to hand over the $35 for 24 hour access to the article, but the info on that front page – ie. that he passed away on the same night as King George VI in his 82nd year – gives me these dates:

John O’Connor (1870-1952)

Also he was a Monsignor, friends with Fr Vincent McNabb, Fr Bede Jarrett and Fr Hugh Pope.

He is also said to be the model for G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown detective novels.

He also wrote lots of articles for New Blackfriars. Here is the one I stumbled upon first.

But, of course, this wealth of easy access has its downside – someone beat me to this one. See the Wikipedia entry.

And thus concludes my night of working on the hymnbook. I’m finally fixing up pagebreaks and judiciously adding in extra hymns to cover the pages nicely. If I get this done, then its time to print and bind a copy for the Bishop. Then figure out how to print and bind books for the rest of us. But that’s another story.


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