|Composer:||George James Webb (1837)|
|Incipit:||51131 16151 2325|
George J. Webb (b. Rushmore Lodge, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, 1803; d. Orange, NJ, 1887) composed WEBB (also known as MORNING LIGHT) on a voyage from England to the United States. The tune was published in The Odeon, a collection of secular music compiled by Webb and Lowell Mason (PHH 96) in 1837. There it was set to "'Tis Dawn, the Lark Is Singing." WEBB was used as a hymn tune in The Wesleyan Psalmist (1842), where it was the setting for "The Morning Light Is Breaking" (thus its other title).
William B. Bradbury (PHH 114) paired WEBB to Duffield's text, an association that appeared in many ofIra D. Sankey's (PHH 73) hymnals. Hymnologist Stanley L. Osborne says that this tune "goes with a roar." A rounded bar form (AABA), WEBB has a very simple harmony. Sing the entire hymn in parts-standing, of course!
Although his parents had intended that he become a minister, Webb's early skills in music soon pointed toward a career in music. He studied organ at Salisbury Cathedral and became organist in a church in Falmouth. In 1830 he immigrated to the United States, settled in Boston, and became organist in the Old South Church, a position he held for the next forty years. In his later years Webb taught singing in Orange, New Jersey, and New York City and published two books on voice pedagogy. Working with Lowell Mason on a number of projects, including the publishing of The National Psalmist (1848), Webb also taught music at Mason's Boston Academy of Music and was president of the Handel and Haydn Society. In 1835 Webb joined the Swedenborgian Church and was influential in shaping its musical service book of 1836 as well as the book's revisions in 1854 and 1876. He also edited other songbooks such as The Massachusetts Collection of Psalmody (1840), The Psaltery (1845), The Melodist (1850), and
Cantica Ecclesiastica (1859).
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook