- Publisher: Cambridge University Press
- Online publication date: June 2015
- Print publication year: 2014
- Online ISBN: 9781316106495
Cecilia, a martyr of the early Christian church, has traditionally been honoured as the patron saint of music. Precisely how that association arose remains uncertain, yet she has inspired many composers over the centuries, notably Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten. A music scholar and contributor to the first edition of Grove's Dictionary, William Henry Husk (1814–87) joined the Sacred Harmonic Society in 1834 and served as its librarian from 1852. This captivating work, first published in 1857, was prompted by what Husk felt to be unaccountable neglect by music historians of an important aspect of musical life. His carefully researched summary traces the musical celebrations of Cecilia's feast day, 22 November, in Britain and Europe from 1571 to 1846. An appendix gives the texts of numerous odes written for St Cecilia's Day, including pieces by Dryden and Brady, set to music by Handel and Purcell respectively.