Born: March 10, 1823, King­ston up­on Hull, Eng­land, in the Old Ivy House.

Baptized: March 10, 1823, Old Sut­ton Church, King­ston up­on Hull, by his grand­fa­ther, Tho­mas Dykes. His mid­dle name, Bac­chus, was orig­in­al­ly a sur­name, from his ma­ter­nal ancestors.

Died: Jan­ua­ry 22, 1876, Tice­hurst, Sus­sex, Eng­land.

Buried: St. Os­wald’s Church, Dur­ham, Eng­land.


John was the son of Will­iam Hey Dykes, a ship build­er, lat­er a ban­ker, and Eli­za­beth Hunt­ing­ton; hus­band of Su­san­nah King­ston; and broth­er of Eli­za Al­der­son.

Around age 12, he be­came as­sist­ant or­gan­ist at St. John’s Church in Hull, where his grand­fa­ther was vic­ar.

He stu­died at Wake­field, York­shire, and St. Cath­a­rine’s Hall, Cam­bridge, where he was a Dikes Scho­lar, pre­si­dent of the Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Mu­sic­al So­ci­ety, and earned a BA in Class­ics.

In 1848, he be­came cur­ate at Mal­ton, York­shire. For a short time, he was a can­on of Dur­ham Ca­thed­ral, then pre­cen­tor (1849–62). In 1862 he be­came vi­car of St. Os­wald’s, Dur­ham (he named a son John St. Os­wald Dykes, and one of his tunes St. Os­wald).

Dykes pub­lished ser­mons and ar­ti­cles on re­li­gion, but is best known for com­pos­ing over 300 hymn tunes.

In his mu­sic, as in his ec­cles­i­as­tic­al work, he was less dog­ma­tic than ma­ny of his con­tem­po­rar­ies about the theo­lo­gic­al con­tro­ver­sies of the day—he oft­en ful­filled re­quests for tunes for non-Ang­li­can hymns.

In ad­di­tion to his gift for writ­ing mu­sic, he played the or­gan, pi­ano, vio­lin, and horn.