December 27, 1800, Fareham, Hampshire, England.

May 10, 1880, Brixton, London, England.

Kensal Green Cemetery, London, England.


Goss’s father was Joseph Goss, organist in Fareham. John was a chorister in the Chapel Royal under John Stafford Smith (1811), and afterwards a pupil of Thomas Attwood.

Goss composed mostly church music. He was organist at St. Luke’s, Chelsea (1824) and St. Paul’s Cathedral (1838–72). He was also a composer to the Chapel Royal (1856–72), and Professor of Harmony at the Royal Academy of Music for almost half a century. Queen Victoria knighted him in 1872, and Cambridge University awarded him a Doctor of Music degree in 1876.

In the Musical Times for 1901 Dr. Hopkins has given some interesting reminiscences.

‘Goss had not long been installed before he discovered that the organ stood in need of the addition of a few useful stops, so he took the opportunity, after one of the week-day services, of asking the Canon whether these desirable alterations might be made. Mr. Goss, solemnly replied Sydney Smith, what a strange set of creatures you organists are! First you want the bull stop, then you want the tom-tit stop; in fact you are like a jaded old cab-horse, always longing for another stop!

‘In the Psalms,’ continues Dr. Hopkins, ‘whenever there occurred any reference to storms and tempest, the organ used to give forth a deep roll, to the great delight of good Miss Hackett, who would look up at the instrument with a smile of intense satisfaction. On one occasion, when the psalms had been unusually full of references to atmospheric disturbances, and the organ had been demonstrative to an unusual degree, this good lady’s face had been beaming almost incessantly. After the service Sydney Smith accosted the organist with this profound remark: Mr. Goss, I don’t know whether you have ever observed this remarkable phenomenon: whenever your organ ‘thunders,’ Miss Hackett’s face ‘lightens’!

Lightwood, p. 193–94

Goss’ works include:

The monument to Goss in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral:

In remembrance of Sir John Goss, Knt., Mus.D., Cantab.;
Composer to H. M. Chapels Royal,
and for 34 years Organist and Vicar Choral of this Cathedral.
Born 27th December 1800. Died 10th May 1880.
His genius and skill are shewn in the various compositions
with which he has enriched the music of the church.
His virtues and kindness of heart endeared him to his pupils and friends,
who have erected this monument in token of their admiration and esteem.

  1. Advent
  2. Armageddon
  3. Arthur’s Seat
  4. Bevan
  5. Goss
  6. Humility
  7. Israel
  8. Lauda Anima
  9. Peterborough
  10. Rothley
  11. Salvator
  12. St. Cyprian