An old Fellow of Trinity - (2008)
Arthur Clement Hilton
for high voice and piano
There was an old Fellow of Trinity,
A Doctor well versed in Divinity,
But he took to free thinking
And then to deep drinking,
And so had to leave the vicinity.
[ 2 pages, circa 50" ]
Arthur Clement Hilton
Arthur Clement Hilton (1851-1877) was educated at Marlborough College and St. John's College, Cambridge, where he published in Green Light (1872), a collection of verse parodies. After graduation from Wells Theological College in 1873, Hilton was ordained deacon in 1874, became curate of St. Clement and St. Mary, Sandwich, and ordained priest in 1875. He took an M.A. at Cambridge in 1876 but died suddenly the year thereafter. It was not until 1902 that his collected works were published.
Robert Edgcumbe writes in a Preface to that collection: "The parodies published at Cambridge in 1872 under the name Green Light have long been associated with the name Arthur Clement Hilton. Although the Green Light has become widely known amongst University men, and has given Arthur Hilton a place amongst recognized English humorists, little has hitherto been known, save for his own small circle of friends, of Arthur Hilton himself." Edgcumbe adds of his edition of Hilton's verse and letters as a criticism and explanation, "My only claim to attempt a memorial of him must be that we were great friends during the latter part of his time at Cambridge; while those who may be inclined to criticise, the only apology I can offer is that no one else has come forward to tell the story of his too short life, and that where his letters sufficiently fill in the outline, I have left him to tell his own story in his own words, and this is best, [quoting in verse] "For whosoever knows us truly, knows / That none can truly write his simple day, / And none can write it for him upon earth."
This strange limerick tells a humorously sad tale of the Doctor "well versed in Divinity" who "falls away." How often have we seen those who profess wide knowledge of religion, ethics, morality and even the "honor of politics" betray their own self-confessed stance? It is an old, old tale as leaders fail to live up to their openly professed ethical standards, from American presidents and other politicians to religious leaders to members of academia, who happily complain of others' ethical lapses, addictions and even outright sins while defending their own.
For such convoluted public stances, I chose to set the text in a widely spaced counterpoint, as the upper and lower voices of the accompaniment make a quixotic yet inexact canon with the vocal line, along the lines of "what a tangled web we weave." The E minor scale forces the raised seventh of the scale against the lowered sixth melodically and therefore contrapuntally.
The score for An old Fellow of Trinity is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.
An old Fellow of Trinity