Isaac Nathan, The Names of Christ

For choir and keyboard, 1853
Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series – MDA016
ISBN 978-0-9923957-5-9 / ISMN 979-0-9009643-5-9


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Isaac Nathan, musician, journalist and composer was born in Canterbury, England, the son of a Polish Jewish cantor. A pupil of Domenico Corri, who composed the ballad opera on the South Seas, Pitcairn Island, Nathan came to prominence with his publication in 1815 of the two volumes of Hebrew Melodies, set to the poetry of Lord Byron. Financial difficulties caused Nathan to leave England, and he arrived in Sydney in April 1841. There through his self-promotion he became a well-known musical figure in early Sydney. Together with William Vincent Wallace he was the best known musical identity in the early life of the Colony of New South Wales. Nathan worked as a musician at the embryonic St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, then under the Benedictine Bishop [later Archbishop] John Bede Polding, as well as having an association with St James’ Anglican Church. He died in 1864 as the result of an accident on the newly introduced horse drawn tram in Sydney. Very few of his manuscripts survive, presumably because his widow burned them after his untimely death. We now know that Nathan was a prolific writer, commentator and may have been Australia’s first food critic.

The three sacred works in this series were all composed by Nathan in Sydney. The Names of Christ was issued in 1853, and is a series of verses of music, for six voices and set to poetry by the Rev James Brotherton Laughton of Sydney (1814-1883). It was composed expressly for ‘St James’ and St Mary’s Choral Societies’.