Index to Hymn Melodies

Scope and Content

Manuscript copy of the index to the third edition of Hymn-melodies for the whole year from the Sarum Antiphonal and other ancient English sources: together with sequences for the principal seasons & festivals (London: printed for the Plainsong and Mediaeval Music Society, 1914). Five letters from James Mearns to Henry Guppy, Librarian of the John Rylands Library, are inserted.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Mearns (1855-1922) was a clergyman and hymnologist who had a particular interest in early church music. He was born at Coldstream, Berwickshire, in 1855 and studied at the University of Glasgow and United Presbyterian College, Edinburgh. He was ordained a deacon in the church of England in 1884, and a priest in 1885. He held a series of curacies: in Owston, Lincolnshire (1884-6); Cholesbury, Buckinghamshire (1886-9); Monks Risborough, Buckinghamshire (1889-94); and Whitchurch, Oxfordshire (1894-6). He was vicar for Ashby-de-la-Launde in Lincolnshire from 1896 to 1906, and vicar of Rushden, Hertfordshire from 1906. Mearns was assistant editor for the second edition of John Julian's Dictionary of hymnology (1907), and he wrote several works on hymnology in his own right, including Early Latin hymnaries: an index of hymns in hymnaries before 1100; with an appendix from later sources (1913), The canticles of the Christian church, eastern and western in early and medieval times (1914), and Anthologia Graeca Carminum Christianorum (1915).

Conditions Governing Access

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The manuscript was created for the John Rylands Library by James Mearns in 1919.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan, project archivist, and Elizabeth Gow, with reference to:

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928 (English MS 411).

Related Material

The following repositories hold archive material relating to James Mearns:

  • British Library, Manuscript Collections: 2 volumes of notes made by Mearns for the Dictionary of Hymnology, 1894-5 (ref.: GB 058 Add MSS 69438-9);
  • British Library, Music Collections: Mearns's hymnological indexes (ref.: GB 2027 MSS Mus. 314-323);
  • Glasgow University Library, Special Collections Department, holds Mearns's correspondence and papers (ref.: GB 247 MS Gen 1673 ).