Beginning in January 2019, we’ll be featuring a hymn tune from our Two-Part Hymn Series each week.
John Bacchus Dykes (1823–1876)
First publication: 1861
The tune Nicaea was written specifically for the words with which it is almost always associated, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, authored by Reginald Heber. These lyrics are an exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity, and the name of the tune is a reference to the First Council of Nicaea, held in 365AD, where the doctrine was formalized.
The composer, John Bacchus Dykes, is one of the great hymn composers of the 19th century, with some 300 tunes in his catalog, many of which are still standards in many church hymnals. Born in Hull, England, he was a church organist at an early age, some reports indicating that as early as the age of ten he served as associate organist of a church in Hull where his grandfather was the vicar. He later studied at Cambridge and eventually settled in Durham, being appointed a minor canon of Durham Cathedral in 1849 and serving as vicar of St. Oswald’s Church near the cathedral from 1862 until his death.