William Harris

~ Person


Sir William Henry Harris KCVO (28 March 1883 - 6 September 1973) was an English organist and composer, affectionately nicknamed 'Doc H' by his choristers.

Harris was born in Fulham, London and died in Petersfield. He was a chorister of Holy Trinity, Tulse Hill. At the age of 14, he took up a "flexible" position as Assistant Organist at St David's Cathedral in Wales, followed at 16 by a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where he was Professor of Organ and Harmony from 1921 to 1955. He was organist at St Augustine's Church, Edgbaston from 1911 to 1919 and concurrently of Assistant Organist at Lichfield Cathedral followed in 1919 by becoming Organist successively at New College and in 1929 Christ Church, Oxford, moving to St. George's Chapel, Windsor in 1933.

As Organist at Windsor, Harris was at his most productive. He produced music for the Three Choirs Festival, was a conductor at both the 1937 and 1953 coronations, and had music premiered at the Proms, all of which led to being appointed KCVO in 1954.

Harris is best remembered for his Anglican church music, though his main achievements were as a choir-trainer. His most famous works are the anthems Faire is the heaven (1925) and to a lesser extent Bring us, O Lord God (1959), both for unaccompanied double choir, and Strengthen ye the weak hands (1949) for choir and organ. His very accessible Communion Service in F was frequently sung in a great many Anglican parish churches up until the 1970s. The canticles Harris in A and Harris in A minor are still sung at Evensong in a number of Anglican cathedrals. He also composed cantatas and organ pieces, as well as the hymn tune Alberta (often used for the words Lead, Kindly Light), and various Anglican psalm chants.

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Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1991 Hail, gladdening Light The Cambridge Singers, John Rutter 1
1992 Great Cathedral Anthems - III Southwark Cathedral Choir 1
1992 Taverner to Tavener (feat. Christ Church Cathedral Choir, director: Stephen Darlington) Various Artists 1
1993 Favourite Motets From Westminster Cathedral (Westminster Cathedral Choir, James O'Donnell, feat. organ: Iain Simcock) Various Artists 1
1994 Oxford Church Anthems Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford 1
1994 In a Quiet Cathedral (organ: Todd Wilson) Todd Wilson 1
1996 Christmas with the Victoria Scholars Victoria Scholars 1
1999 Illumina Choir of Clare College, Cambridge 1
2009 England My England Choir of King’s College, Cambridge 2
2012 This Is the Day: Music on Royal Occasions The Cambridge Singers, John Rutter 2
2012 Pater Noster: A Choral Reflection on the Lord's Prayer The King’s Singers 1
2013 War & Peace: Music for Remembrance The Choirs of Jesus College, Cambridge 1
Faire Is the Heaven Elora Festival Singers 1
Faire Is The Heaven The Cambridge Singers 1
The English Anthem, Volume 6 Various Artists 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1994 Too Late, Too Late: Newly Discovered Titles & Alternate Takes, Volume 3 (1927-1960's) Compilation Various Artists 1
1995 Dust My Broom: The Essential Recordings of Mississippi Delta Blues Compilation Various Artists 1
1995 Treasures of English Church Music Compilation The Cambridge Singers, John Rutter 1
1996 Juke Joint Blues Compilation Various Artists 1
2001 Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues Compilation Charley Patton 1
2003 The Best There Ever Was: The Legendary Early Blues Performers Compilation Various Artists 1
2003 Remembrance (St. Paul's Cathedral Choir feat. conductor: John Scott) Compilation Various Artists 1
2004 Century of the Blues Compilation Various Artists 1
2005 American Primitive, Volume II: Pre-War Revenants (1897-1939) Compilation Various Artists 1
2006 The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of Compilation Various Artists 1
2007 A Richer Tradition: Country Blues and String Band Music 1923-1942 Compilation Various Artists 1
2013 The Rough Guide to Blues Legends: Blind Blake Compilation Blind Blake 5 1
Choral Favourites From King's College Compilation Choir of King’s College, Cambridge 1
Mississippi Masters: Early American Blues Classics Compilation Various Artists 1
Times Ain't Like They Used to Be: Early American Rural Music, Volume 4 Compilation Various Artists 1


Year Title Artist Rating Releases
Music for Christmas Various Artists 1
The Spirit of Christmas Various Artists 1

Unspecified type

Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1990 Choral Favourites Various Artists 1
1992 Great European Organs, Number 34 (St. Paul's Cathedral, London) John Scott 1

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