The “Psalms of Thanksgiving to be sung by the children of Christ’s Hospital…” are, like CH itself, sui generis  - a unique collection of annual Psalms composed by the incumbent Music Master of the time, to words usually written by a Master or Scholar. They were intended for performance at the Easter Week Spital Sermons, though whether as solo items with choruses, or for a small choir, is uncertain.

The earliest known is for 1610, shortly after the appointment of John Farrant to the Music School, though a similar work “for the private use of the poor orphanes in Christ’s Hospital” was written in 1609. The custom continued until 1862.

The annual work was usually printed as a decorated Broadside, with music and words above, and below that an abbreviated report on the Royal Hospitals, with pupil and patient numbers, and an implied appeal for funds towards the pressing needs of the Charity.

The Psalms span the musical, literary and printing styles of the period, and form a collection of some importance. Over the years many have been lost, but over half still exist, and we are fortunate to have over 100 originals in our Archive, and have traced others to Libraries throughout the world to add further copies.

Amongst many exciting research discoveries was the connection between Robert Glenn, Music Master from 1810 to 1844, and Charles, a member of the famous Wesley family. Glenn married Charles’ niece, Rosalind, and for several years Wesley took Glenn’s annual Psalm, and wrote an anthem that continued in a more complex style after Glenn’s first verse, but using the original text. These manuscripts were discovered in the British Library, and are being edited for modern performance alongside Glenn’s originals by John Nightingale, a Wesley scholar.

This collection is probably unmatched by any other organisation, and the survival of some very fragile documents make this a precious testament to the rich heritage of CH.

The anthem on the left is for 1735.