Webbe, Samuel, foremost English composer of glees; b. probably in London, 1740; d. there, May 15, 1816. He was apprenticed to a carpenter when he was 11, but also studied music on his own; was a music copyist while studying with the organist Barbandt. His canon “O that I had wings” won a prize of the Noblemen’s and Gentlemen’s Catch Club in 1766, and he subsequently carried off 26 other prizes from then until 1792. He became organist of the Portuguese and Sardinian chapels in 1776, and remained active at the latter until about 1813. He was made librarian of the Glee Club at its foundation in 1787; his glee “Glorious Apollo” was the opening glee at every one of its meetings during its existence; he also served as secretary of the Catch Club from 1794 until his death. Although he was most famous in his day for his glees, he also wrote music for the Roman Catholic liturgy; his antiphon O salutaris hostia (1782) is his best-known work today, being the hymn tune “Melcombe,” generally used for Keble’s hymn New every morning is the love; he also wrote music for the Anglican service. His son, also named Samuel Webbe (b. London, c. 1770; d. there, Nov. 25, 1843), was an organist and composer; he studied with his father and then held various posts as an organist. He wrote the music for an operatic farce, The Speechless Wife (Covent Garden, London, May 22,1794), as well as numerous glees, catches, and songs, music for the Roman Catholic liturgy, 4 harp sonatas, and much piano music.
vocal: Secular:8 books of catches, canons, and glees for 3 to 6 Voices (London, c. 1764-95); A Collectionof Vocal Music for 2 to 5 Voices (London, 1795; with his son); 6 Original Glees (London, 1840; ed. by his son); various other works in anthologies of the 18th and 19th centuries. Latin Sacred : An Essay on the Church Plain Chant (London, 1782); A Collection of Sacred Music as Used in the Chapel of the King of Sardinia (London, c. 1785); A Collection of Masses with Accompaniment for the Organ (London, 1792); A Collection of Motetts or Antiphons (London, 1792). English Sacred : 8 Anthems in Score for the Use of Cathedrals and Country Choirs (London, 1794); 12 Anthems (London, c. 1798); A Collection of Original Psalm Tunes for 3 to 4 Voices (London, c. 1805; with his son). INSTRUMENTAL: 6 sonatas for Piano or Harpsichord (London, c. 1780); organ music.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire