John Speller's Web Pages See! they come, a glorious army

John Speller's Web Pages - Cornish Carols
See! they come, a glorious army
A text of unknown origin published in Penzance in 1870 by F. Rodda in A Selection of Carols, Pieces and Anthems, suitable for Christmas, and also found in a broadsheet printed by Richard H. Woolsock of Helston and preserved in the Bodleian Library [Firth b.26(53)]. The carol was also sung in nineteenth-century Canada and a slightly different text with different second and third stanzas, is set as a Christmas anthem in the Canadian Anthem Book (1873). The tune is by William Litton Viner, who was born in Bath, England and died in Westfield, Massachusetts in 1867. An organ pupil of Charles Wesley, Jr., Viner became organist of St. Michael's Church in Bath in 1810, and on 13 June 1822 married Emma Densham (1798-1865) in Butleigh Church. In 1838, on the recommendation of S. S. Wesley, he was appointed organist of St. Mary's, Penzance. He was also a noted composer and performer of music for the harp. He had at least six sons, three of whom were John Lewis, Charles and Frederick. Viner ran a musical instrument making business in Penzance, which must have proved to been useful experience for two of his sons. Charles and Frederick, who both emigrated to Westfield, Massachusetts in 1858, where they worked for the organ builder William A. Johnson. In 1870 Charles Viner and his son, Charles, Jr., established their own organ building business, Charles Viner & Son in Buffalo, New York. In 1859 William Lytton and Emma Viner followed their sons to Westfield, Massachusetts, where they seem to have lived in retirement and died in 1867 and 1865 respectively.

Viner left an extensive collection of manuscripts of harp, organ, piano and choral music, which is now in the Sibley Library, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York.

This tune, known variously as "Helston" or "Kingston," was also used with Charles Wesley's text, "Come, thou conqueror of the nations."

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The magnificent three-manual organ of 1837 at St. Mary's, Penzance, which William Litton Viner was hired to play. The instrument, built by Henry Crabb (1793-1872) of Exeter, doubtless inspired Viner's sons, Charles and Frederick, to seek careers in organ building. Like the Viners, Henry Crabb emigrated to the United States, where he built organs in Brooklyn, New York.
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