Joseph P. Holbrook was a tune writer in the parlor music style, and used the popular melodies of Mason and Hastings, Bradbury and Root, Greatorex and Kingsley in his collections. He furnished settings for the choir hymns in Songs for the Sanctuary in his Quartet and chorus Choir (New York, 1871, and sought more recogniation than had been given him in a hymnal of his own, Worship in Song (New York, 1880); a book that found no welcome.
from The English hymn: its development and use in worship
By Louis FitzGerald Benson Go to person page >
Little is known about the composer of BISHOP, Joseph P. Holbrook (b. near Boston, MA, 1822; d. U.S.A., 1888); he did serve as editor of several hymn collections, including Songs of the Church (1862) and Hymnal of the Methodist Episcopal Church with Tunes (1878), to which he contributed a number of his own tunes.
Holbrook's tune BISHOP was first published in Duryea's The Presbyterian Hymnal (1874). No specific bishop has been identified in relation to the tune title. It is a serviceable tune with some dramatic flair in the second phrase that matches the text particularly well. Lines 1 and 3 are identical. BISHOP has the character of early Puritan psalm tunes; the humility of this melody helps one focus on the song text. It is ideally sung in harmony and in its entirety: all the stanzas belong together, and stanza 3 continues into stanza 4. Though the music consists of four lines, the textual units usually cover two; try to sing in two long lines, feeling two beats per bar, so that the textual lines prevail.