Alec Wyton, chief architect of the hymnal 1982, dies at 86

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March 22, 2007

Alec Wyton, chief architect of the hymnal 1982, died March 18 in Ridgefield, Connecticut where he and his family had resided for the past 20 years. He was 86.

Services will be held March 23, at 3 p.m., at St. Stephen's Church, 351 Main Street, Ridgefield.

Wyton was born in London, England on August 3, 1921. He received a B.A. from Exeter College, Oxford, in 1946 and an M.A. in 1949. He was also awarded honorary doctorates from Susquehanna University in 1976 and Virginia Theological Seminary in 1997.

He was an organist, choirmaster, composer, and teacher whose career included two decades as organist and choirmaster at New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

During his Cathedral years, Wyton actively sought to incorporate a variety of musical traditions into the music of the church. He provided a performing platform for emerging artists and collaborated with main-stream composers including Ned Rorem and Charles Wourinen and performers such as Eubie Blake, Duke Ellington, Leopold Stowkowski and the cast of HAIR.

Wyton left the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1974 to become organist-choirmaster of St. James' Church in New York City. At that time he also became coordinator of the Standing Commission on Church Music which produced The Hymnal 1982 for the Episcopal Church.

Always seeking to educate the next generation in church music, Wyton founded the Church Music Department at the Manhattan School of Music in 1984, serving as chairman until 1990. In 1987 he left St. James' Church to accept appointment as minister of music at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Ridgefield, a position he held until his retirement in 1997 at age 75.

Wyton is survived by his wife of 27 years, Mary Broman Wyton, his four sons, Vaughan, Richard, Patrick and Christopher, three grandsons and his former wife Maribelle Couper.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Dominic's Children's Home, 500 Western Highway, Blauvelt, New York 10913.