Henry John King, Benedictus

For choir and organ. Melbourne, c. 1896.
Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series – MDA029
ISBN 978-0-9925672-8-6 / ISMN 979-0-9009642-8-1


MDA029 King Benedictus_0006    MDA029 pic1

Henry John King descended from a long and active musical family. His father, Henry John King senior arrived in Melbourne in 1854, and advertised himself as a teacher of the harp, piano, violin and guitar, and teaching at Emerald Hill. Other members of the family were musicians and the King dynasty were listed as key performers in the Madame Anna Bishop concerts under George Loder. The father was the leader of the Royal Philharmonic Society of Melbourne orchestra from 1857 to 1860. Henry John King junior was born in South Melbourne in 1855 and was taught music at an early age within the family, and then by the composer Charles Edward Horsley, who had been a pupil of Mendelssohn, Ignaz Moscheles and Louis Spohr.

King is listed in local newspapers as working as an organist in Portland, and in 1876 in Castlemaine, both in Victoria. He was appointed as organist to the prestigious St Mark’s Anglican Church in Fitzroy, and began a prolific career in composition. There are several secular works cited as being written by him, including the Cantata, The Wedding, and an opera in four acts and a prologue entitled Penelope, set to a libretto by a Mrs J A King.

King distinguished himself as a composer of sacred music and settings of his Mass, a Benedictus, and a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis which were published before 1900 in London by the London Music Publishing Company, and are held in Australian libraries. The Benedictus is dedicated to his friend Robert S Thomson. The work is extremely well written for the voice, and the organ parts show a considerable expertise on the instrument. There are no critical notes required. King relocated to Queensland in 1910, possibly for health reasons and he passed away at Southport on 27 June 1934.