Born: March 10, 1823, Kingston upon Hull, England, in the
Old Ivy House.
Baptized: March 10, 1823, Old Sutton Church, Kingston upon Hull, by his grandfather, Thomas Dykes. His middle name, Bacchus, was originally a surname, from his maternal ancestors.
Died: January 22, 1876, Ticehurst, Sussex, England.
Buried: St. Oswald’s Church, Durham, England.
John was the son of William Hey Dykes, a ship builder, later a banker, and Elizabeth Huntington; husband of Susannah Kingston; and brother of Eliza Alderson.
Around age 12, he became assistant organist at St. John’s Church in Hull, where his grandfather was vicar.
He studied at Wakefield, Yorkshire, and St. Catharine’s Hall, Cambridge, where he was a Dikes Scholar, president of the Cambridge University Musical Society, and earned a BA in Classics.
In 1848, he became curate at Malton, Yorkshire. For a short time, he was a canon of Durham Cathedral, then precentor (1849–62). In 1862 he became vicar of St. Oswald’s, Durham (he named a son John St. Oswald Dykes, and one of his tunes St. Oswald).
Dykes published sermons and articles on religion, but is best known for composing over 300 hymn tunes.
In his music, as in his ecclesiastical work, he was less dogmatic than many of his contemporaries about the theological controversies of the day—he often fulfilled requests for tunes for non-Anglican hymns.
In addition to his gift for writing music, he played the organ, piano, violin, and horn.