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Merbecke or Marbeck, John  

(c. 1510-c. 1585). English composer and theologian. He is best known as the composer of The booke of Common praier noted (1550) in which he set Prayer Book services to plainsong-like melodies in strict acknowledgment of Archbishop Cranmer's admonition, "for every syllable a note" (see The Hymnal 1982, S 67, S 90, S 113, S 157, S 201; and S 375-S 379 in The Hymnal 1982 Accompaniment Edition, Vol. 1 .). His concordance to the Bible (third version) was also published in 1550. The first records concerning Merbecke appeared in 1541 and list him as a lay clerk and organist of St. George's Chapel, Windsor. In 1543 he was condemned for heresy but saved by the personal intervention of Bishop Gardiner of Winchester and the commissioner Sir Humphrey Foster. After a short term in prison he was pardoned by the King and restored to his position at Windsor. Merbecke is credited with the composition of several Latin works, but none of his English music has survived. In the last thirty-five years of life he composed no more music. He spent most of his energies as a committed Calvinist writing theological works, including A Ripping up of the Pope's Fardel (1581). He was the composer of the "First Communion Service" of The Hymnal (1940). Merbecke probably died at Windsor. 




Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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