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RCB Ms 1111: A musical manuscript comes to light for the installation of the Knights of St Patrick in 1819

For July, the RCB Library Archive of the Month turns to a musical note as music historian Dr David O’Shea explores the recent accession of an original manuscript copy of Sir John Stevenson’s ‘Te Deum and Jubilate in the key of C, sung at the installation [sic] of the Knights of St Patrick 1819’ in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.  Dr O’Shea’s article also provides a concise introduction to Sir John, who is the Irish composer perhaps best known for his piano arrangements of Irish Melodies with poet Thomas Moore.

An example of one of the pages from the document. RCB Library Ms 1111.
An example of one of the pages from the document. RCB Library Ms 1111.

The document was donated to the RCB Library by Sarah Cannon last year, following contact with Dr Stuart Kinsella, Archivist of Christ Church Cathedral, and Dr O’Shea who both put her in touch with the Library where the archives of both Dublin cathedrals – St Patrick’s and Christ Church – which contain significant musical–related materials are located.  The provenance of the document is a bit of a mystery. It was given to Sarah by her father, the Revd AM Cannon of Penrith, but it is not known how the manuscript came to be in his possession.  Dr O’Shea’s article offers us a colourful picture of Dublin and one of the principal cathedrals of the Church of Ireland in 1819.

The Library is grateful to Sarah Cannon for her kind donation, and for the collaboration provided by both Dr Kinsella and Dr O’Shea, which ensured that its final home would be here. This manuscript, which is digitized to accompany the online presentation, makes a welcome addition to our extensive manuscript collection, now numbering some 1,133 individual collections. As Dr O’Shea notes, there is an “ephemerality of concert works, performed only once or twice, compared with the endurance of church works, performed repeatedly in the context of daily cathedral services.”

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