5th February 1775
30th May 1859
St Peter's parish in Canterbury, England
Thomas Clark was a Canterbury shoemaker (cordwainer) and a prolific composer of West Gallery music, especially for the Nonconformist churches of the South East of England. Sally Drage, writing in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, notes that he was 'particularly influential as the composer of early Sunday School collections'
He was apprenticed as a shoemaker to his father, William Clark, and became a Freeman of the City of Canterbury in 1796 on completion of his apprenticeship as he was the son of a Freeman.
The best-known of his hymn tunes is Cranbrook: it was originally set to the words 'Grace 'tis a charming sound' written by Philip Doddridge, and published in Clark's first book A Sett of Psalm & Hymn Tunes . Cranbrook was later used as a tune for the Christmas hymn 'While shepherds watched their flocks by night' and is now better known as the tune of the Yorkshire song 'On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at'.
Two other tunes by Clark were included in the 1933 Methodist Hymn Book with Tunes: they are Crediton (tune 565), which was first published in Clark's Second Set of Psalm Tunes ... with symphonies & an instrumental bass, adapted to the use of country choirs [c1807], and Warsaw (tune 606), which was first published in his Third Set of Psalm & Hymn Tunes .