Estelle White

Elizabeth Estelle White (1925-2011) wrote more than 160 hymns for adults and children, including Gentle as Silence, Autumn Days, Deep Calls to Deep and a setting of the Our Father.

Some of her compositions are still included in current hymn books including

Born and brought up on Tyneside, Estelle played the piano, guitar, clarinet and tenor saxophone.   Her musical influences included Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

She joined the the Auxiliary Territorial Service when she was 17 and played with the HQ band on many ceremonial occasions, including the 1946 Victory Parade, and travelled entertaining the troops in the Central Mediterranean Force in Palestine and Egypt.

After the war, she trained as a physiotherapist, and moved to Canada where she joined the Roman Catholic Church.

She returning to England in 1965 and took temporary vows with the Congregation of Corpus Christi Carmelite Sisters. She trained at Digby Stuart College, Roehampton and qualified as a teacher of theology and music.

After leaving the the convent she taught in schools in the North of England.   A few brief glimpses can be seen of her directing music in a televised Christmas Day Mass in this video from 1973.

In retirement, she studied Hebrew and Greek, earning an MA with Distinction from Leeds University in 1989.  She was Director of the church choir at St Josephs, Dewsbury, from 1984 until 1991.

She said in 1996 (ref):
"All my hymns are very clear, very concrete. ... I think you find the transcendental in everything, so I tend to write hymns that bring in concrete things."

A biography, "Estelle White (1925-2011): An introduction to her life and hymns" was published in 2016 and is available in Kindle format on Amazon (or UK / Ireland), or by PayPal / mail from the publisher for UK addresses.

1 comment:

  1. RIP Miss White, one of the kindest and best teachers we had at St Mary's School, Alnwick. She wrote some really lovely hymns and was a great muscian. God bless.