John Ernest Cook (11 October 1918 – 12 August 1984) was an Anglo-American organist, composer and church musician. He was born at Maldon, Essex on 11 October 1918. After leaving St. John's School, Leatherhead, he entered Christ's College, Cambridge as an organ scholar where he came under the influence of Hugh Allen and Boris Ord (King's College). A conscientious objector to the second World War, he left his Cambridge studies prematurely to drive an ambulance during the Blitz of London. Following the War, he spent three years at The Old Vic Theatre in London, and also worked as a copyist for Ralph Vaughan Williams.
In 1949 Cook was appointed as Organist and Choirmaster at Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon where he served for five years before accepting a similar post at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Ontario. It was during this time that he joined the teaching faculty of the University of Western Ontario. In 1962 he become Organist and Choirmaster at the Church of the Advent in Boston. He joined the faculties of the Longy School of Music in Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Having battled with diabetes for two decades, Cook died on 12 August 1984.
This coming Sunday is Whitsunday or Pentecost Sunday, the day when the Holy Spirit descends to the Apostles. It is a dramatic day, and the time we hear of all the attributes of the Spirit.
"Improvisation on 'Veni Creator Spiritus'" appears in the collection of "Festal Voluntaries", published by Novello in 1956.
It features, in musical terms, all the "intense" attributes of the Holy Spirit. The "fire," the "rushing wind," the "consolation," the "brilliance" are all portrayed here.
The work is dedicated to Harold Dexter (1920-2000) to celebrate his appointment to Southwark Cathedral in 1956, and where he served until 1968.
A photo of John Cook is attached below.