Born: 1707, Hoddlesden, Lancashire, England.
Died: Liverpool, England. He reportedly
went to Liverpool to sing in one of the churches there, and sang until he burst a blood vessel.
Buried: St. Peter’s Church, Liverpool, England.
Harwood’s early training was as a hand loom weaver, but he subsequently became a professional musician in Liverpool.
His setting of Alexander Pope’s The Dying Christian was enormously popular at one time, and was widely performed at funerals:
[Harwood] issued two sets of original hymn-tunes. The first volume contains the metrical anthem,Vital spark of heavenly flame,formerly so popular in country churches. The traditional account of its origin is as follows:
Harwood had been staying in London, in company with Alexander Reed, of Liverpool; but when the time for their return arrived, they found themselves without the means of discharging the reckoning at the inn. In this emergency it was resolved to compose some piece of music, and raise money upon it.
What Reed attempted in that direction is not told, but Harwood, taking up a collection of poetry which lay in the coffee-room, came across Pope’s Ode, which he immediately set to music, and taking it to a publisher, sold the copyright for forty pounds. This relieved the friends from their embarrassment, and brought them back to Liverpool.
Some difficulties occur in connection with the story which need not be specified.
Harwood’s other works include:
If you can help with any of these items, would you ?