Healey Willan

1880-1968. Musical composer. A native of England, he spent most of his professional life in Canada. He came to the prominent organist's position at St. Paul's Anglican Church, Toronto, in 1914, but soon transferred to the High Church atmosphere of St. Mary Magdalene's, where he served for the rest of his life. Here his a cappella gallery choir and chancel choir of men formed an attraction for connoisseurs of liturgical music for many years. Although he has written anthems not unlike Stanford, Wood, and Noble, his most characteristic works are the shorter, unaccompanied pieces, which he probably wrote for his own choir at St. Mary Magdalene's. A number of hymn anthems, based on traditional melodies such as “Sing to the Lord of Harvest,” are in excellent taste and have wide appeal. The Three Kings, for six-part mixed chorus, has fine contrasts of choral timbre. An Apostrophe of the Heavenly Host, with a text from the Eastern liturgy coupled with the tune, “Lasst uns erfreuen,” is a more exacting work for eight-part chorus. Willan has also written larger works with orchestral accompaniment, and a quantity of useful hymn-preludes and other works for organ. Willan taught for many years at the conservatory in Toronto, and exerted a wide influence.