William Billings

1746-1800. American composer. A musical amateur and a tanner by trade, he gained by his unbounded enthusiasm and innate vein of originality a unique place in the development of American church music. He published six collections during his life, the last being his Continental Harmony (1794), which was very influential in New England. “When Jesus wept” is a piece of both beauty and poignancy, and his tune “Chester” to patriotic words of the revolutionary period has attracted wide attention in recent years.