Jean-Baptiste Faure

Jean-Baptiste Faure (1830-1914) was no relation to the better known composer Gabriel Fauré (notice that J.-B. Faure’s name does not have an accent over the last ‘e’ so it is pronounced "for", whereas G. Fauré’s has the accent and is therefore pronounced "forAY").

Faure was born into a house of modest means at best, and when his father died when Faure was seven the family was left destitute. To help put food on the table, Faure became a ‘blower’ at the cathedral of Notre Dame – pipe organs in those days not having the benefit of electric motors, boys were put to work pumping the enormous bellows. The organist, taking an interest in him, gave him singing lessons which enabled him to apply for, and receive, admission to the chorister’s school of the church of St.-Nicolas de Chardonnet.

And that was all the break he needed. Soon his vocal talents were evident, ultimately resulting in leading roles in opera houses throughout Europe – in spite of being plagued by stage fright so severe he dripped with an abundant ‘cold sweat’. At age 46 he retired from active performing, appearing occasionally as it suited him. And he turned his attention to writing songs, including this morning’s anthem. He was also an art connoisseur, owning 76 Manets and 62 Monets, and sat for several portraits by Manet.

In 1905 his wife died, after which he was never himself again. And a strange deafness that set his ears "out of tune" with one other put his music to an end. He died quietly at age 84, by then largely a recluse.