PETER, the Adventures of a Chorister, was first published in 1944, when Sydney Nicholson wrote an imaginative fictional biography of a young boy who undergoes a succession of lives as a chorister in the eight centuries between 1137 and 1937.
Starting his historical journey in a twelfth century monastery, he next became a medieval boy-bishop, and then was an Elizabethan singing-boy in the Chapel Royal at Windsor. He saw the prohibition of cathedral music by the Puritans and its subsequent restoration in the reign of Charles II.
As an orphan in the Foundling Hospital, he was chosen by Handel as a soloist for Messiah; he sang in a village church during the Victorian religious revival; and finally he was a chorister representative for his cathedral at the coronation of George VI in Westminster Abbey.
The book provides a most readable factual account of the unbroken "chain of song" of English church music passing from one generation to the next. This new edition is timely when the current secularization of the liturgy makes such musical and literary links increasingly tenuous.
Sydney Nicholson was born in London in 1875 and studied at the Royal College of Music and in Frankfurt. He became organist of Westminster Abbey in 1919 and left in 1928 to found the School of English Church Music (now the Royal School of Church Music).
His intention was to raise the standard of music-making in parish churches in the British Isles by means of educational courses for choirs, organists, and clergy. He was knighted in 1938 and died in 1947.