Walter Alcock (1861-1947): Sanctus – Salisbury Cathedral Choir

Walter Alcock (1861-1947)A few years ago on a visit to Salisbury Cathedral I fell into conversation with somebody who, it transpired, had been a choirboy at Salisbury during Walter Alcock’s tenure as cathedral organist. During our conversation I learnt that Alcock had constructed a model railway complete with steam locomotive and tender on which he would give the choirboys rides. My previous impression of him was of a somewhat cold and unlikeable man, I liked him much better after that! Alcock’s life spanned the zenith of British imperial power, three reigns, two world wars, and the dissolution of the British empire.  He had a distinguished musical career starting with a musical scholarship to the National Training School for Music aged fifteen and acting as assistant to Frederick Bridge  at Westminster Abbey before accepting the post of cathedral organist at Salisbury Cathedral. He remained at Salisbury for 30 years but played the organ at Westmnister Abbey for three coronations (Edward VII, George V and George VI). He composed his setting of the English language version of the Sanctus for the Coronation of King George V, it’s characterised by rich harmonies and a remärkable change of key for the middle section and a very clever use of soft singing. It’s sung in the YouTube video below by the boys and men of Salisbury cathedral choir. Enjoy :-).


Sanctus – Walter Alcock – YouTube Uploaded by AshMills1973 on Sep 13, 2011

Text: Sanctus

Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of hosts,
Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory:
Glory be to Thee,
O Lord most High.

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