Baptized: January 13, 1731, Haughton, Staffordshire, England.
Died: December 18, 1789, Walsall, West Midlands, England.
Buried: Bath Street Burial Grounds, Walsall, West Midlands, England.
Darwall attended the Manchester Grammar School, and at age 14, entered Brasenose College at Oxford University, graduating in 1756.
He was appointed curate and later vicar of St. Matthew’s parish in Walsall, and lived the rest of his life there.
An accomplished amateur musician, he wrote hymns and poetry, some of which he contributed to the Gentleman’s Magazine.
Darwall wrote many of the tunes for the New Version by Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady, but only his music for Psalm 148 is in common use today. It was composed and sung at the inauguration of a new organ at Walsall parish church, reported in an 1800 issue of Gentleman’s Magazine:
In Whit week, 1773, some anthems were performed by the Walsall singers in the Parish Church. Admittance that day was paid for, and the organ was opened by Dr. Alcock, of Lichfield, who then declared that it was a good instrument.
And on the next Sunday afternoon, it was first played by Mr. Balam, our then organist (who was blind, and had been a pupil of the celebrated Stanley).
The first psalm was part of the 30th, New Version,Uxbridgetune; and Mr. Darwall, our vicar (who was himself a musical man), preached a sermon from Psalm cl:Praise Him with stringed instruments and organs.
In this discourse the preacher, among other things, recommended psalm tunes in quicker time than was common; as, he said,six verses might be sung in the same space of time that four generally are.
After the sermon the entire 150th Psalm, New Version, was sung, to a new tune of the vicar’s composing; and the whole concluded with appropriate prayer and blessing.
Lightwood, p. 160
If you know where to get a good picture of Darwall (head-and-shoulders, at least 200×300 pixels), would you send us an e-mail?