Ouseley became Professor of Music at Oxford University in 1855 and was a considerable scholar in his day, editing the sacred works of Gibbons and making a study of Spanish musical treatises. As a composer he wrote relatively little, although several of his anthems are still regularly performed today. He eschewed secular influences in music at a time when organists ‘inflict upon the congregation long voluntaries, interludes, &c. which consist either of his own vulgar imagination, or selections from the last new opera’. Ouseley commented on the use of secular melodies in hymn tunes as follows: ‘How can they result in aught but the disgust and discouragement of all musical churchmen, the misleading of the unlearned, the abasement of sacred song, the falsification of public taste, and (last, but not least) the dishonour of our God and his worship?’ Ouseley influenced many of the subsequent Victorian church musicians through his musical style and his influence both at Oxford and at St Michael’s College Tenbury—including Stainer, who was invited by Ouseley to become organist there in 1857.
The anthem O Saviour of the World is a short and unpretentious essay for double choir, in what might be termed Ouseley’s self-imposed ecclesiastical compositional idiom. The anthem is appealing in its relative simplicity, in which the words speak clearly to the listener.
from notes by William McVicker ©