Bramley and Stainer
Rev. Henry Ramsden Bramley (1833-1917) and Sir John Stainer (1840-1901) published Christmas Carols, New and Old, with a total of 20 carols, sometime in the 1860s. By 1871, the second series of 22 carols came out bringing the total to 42. A third series - with 28 carols - was issued in 1878, expanding the collection to 70 carols, second only to R. R. Chope's Carols for Use In Church in the number of carols it contained.1 The well-crafted Bramley and Stainer editions were very well received by the British public and the various parts of the series were reprinted as recently as 1950. Carols from this collection which are still known today include
A scan of Christmas Carols, Old and New (an edition containing the both the first and second series, circa 1871, can be found at Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Numerous copies of the first, second and third editions can also be found at ABE Books, among other locations.
The full title of the work was Christmas Carols New and Old; The Words edited by the Rev. Henry Ramsden Bramley, M.A., Fellow and Tutor of Saint Mary Magdalen College, Oxford. The Music edited by Sir John Stainer, M.A., Mus.Doc., of the same College. London, Novello & Co.
Although most editions of Christmas Carols New and Old contain no publication date, the date of the CCEL edition is deduced from the following note in Percy Dearmer’s Preface to The Oxford Book of Carols, Oxford University Press, 1928, pp. xvi-xvii.
The second chapter of the revival [of the carol] in the nineteenth century opens in 1871 with the publication of forty-two Christmas Carols New and Old by the Rev. H. R. Bramley, Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and Dr. John Stainer, then organist of the college. The influence of this book was enormous: it placed in the hands of the clergy…a really practicable tool, which came into general use, and is still in use after nearly sixty years. The great service done by this famous collection was that it brought thirteen traditional carols, with their proper music, into general use at once…It is…mainly to Bramley and Stainer that we owe the restoration of the carol…
There may be the conception that both the first and second series were simultaneously published. However, the Introduction to the Second Series may cause a moment of pause:
The Editors are encouraged by the reception given to their previous attempt to hope that they may have been instrumental in promoting the performance of Christmas Carols on a scale worthy of the increased resources and awakening zeal of the Church.
It would seem, from this passage, that the Second Series was initially published subsequent to the First Series, not simultaneously. At the same time, the editors answered some criticism leveled against the First Series, and added an additional bibliographical reference.
Thus, while there is no reason to doubt Rev. Dearmer's dating of a combined publication in 1871, it appears that the initial publications of the First and Second Series were separate and prior to that date. Subsequently, editions appeared with all three series under the same cover, both in a standard edition and a "Library Edition" (of which the CCEL 1871 edition may be an example of a printing of the First and Second Series, featuring drawings on some pages). A "Library Edition" of all three series featured an expanded preface not found in the "standard" edition; see Introduction To A Combined Volume.
Dwight's Journal of Music (Vol. XXXVII, Sept. 29, 1877, p. 107), contained an advertisement for Bramley and Stainer, Christmas Carols -- New and Old, from Carol I., "God rest you, Merry Gentlemen," to Carol XLII, "The Child Jesus in the Garden." This represents the First and Second Series only.
After the publication of the third series, each of the series continued to be published separately [my copy of the Second Series contains the indices of all three series], as well as in "complete" volumes [one of my copies of which contains an advertisement, listing each of the series individually, a complete edition, and prices for individual carols]. Special editions were also issued, as for example, "A Selection of Christmas Carols from the Collection Edited by H. R. Bramley and John Stainer, Arranged For Men's Voices" (24 carols; date unknown).
None of my three copies contains a date of publication.
The Rev. Henry Ramsden Bramley was born June 4, 1833, at Addingham (near Otley), Yorkshire, England. He studied at Oriel College, Oxford, 1852; was a Scholar of University College, 1853; and Fellow of Magdalen, 1857 (BA 1856, MA 1859). He was ordained deacon in 1856, and priest in 1858. He served as Vicar of Horspath, Oxon (1861-1889) and Canon and Precentor of Lincoln Cathedral (1895-1905).
He never married. His sister Ann lived with him at Nettleham Hall for 17 years following the death of her husband, Rev. James Stewart. It is said that the carriage and pair in which Ann and Henry used to drive around Lincoln was the smartest "turn-out" in town.
Sir John Stainer was born June 6, 1840, in London, England. Blinded in one eye in a childhood accident, Stainer served as chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral (from the age of 7). At 14, he was appointed to the first of his many positions as organist, including Magdalen College (1860), Oxford University (1961), St. Paul's Cathedral (1872), the College of St. Michael, Tenbury, and Christ Church, Oxford. He founded the Oxford Philharmonic Society in 1866, was knighted in 1888, and became a professor of music at Oxford in 1889. He was a member of several associations, including the Plainsong and Mediaeval Music Society, and the London Gregorian Society.
The above photograph of Sir John Stainer is due to the generosity of a great-grand son, Dr. David Pennant; the following site contains numerous photos of Sir Stainer: http://www.pennantpublishing.co.uk/sirjohn.htm.
Stainer and Bramley met at Magdalen College in 1860 when Stainer was appointed organist at the college. In 1865, Bramley was one of those who held the robes for Stainer when he was awarded his doctorate in music at Christ Church, Oxford. Their famous collaboration would follow six years later. He was a prolific author on musicological topics.
He died March 31, 1901, in Verona, Italy, and is buried at Holywell Cemetery, St. Cross Church, Oxford, England. A fuller biography can be found at Sir John Stainer: Biographical Sketch.
See also Peter Chulton, John Stainer and the Musical Life of Victorian Britain (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1984).
1. William Sandys in Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (1833), published the lyrics to 80 carols, but with only 18 tunes. Return