John Hilton was born in 1599, the son of John Hilton, organist of Trinity College, Cambridge (1565-1612). He took the MusB degree at his father’s college in 1626, stating then that he had been studying music for ten years. The following year he married Frances Trapp of St Margaret’s, Westminster, and his only collection, Ayres or Fa Las for Three Voyces, was published in London. In 1628 he was appointed organist and parish clerk of St Margaret’s, and presumably worked there in some capacity until his death, though the start of the Civil War in 1642 and the subsequent Parliamentary prohibition of elaborate church music would doubtless have affected his activities. He was buried at St Margaret’s on 21 March 1657. Much of his output consists of songs and dialogues, and it has been suggested that they were composed for a music society operating in Westminster during the Interregnum, presumably including musicians made redundant when the royal music at Whitehall ceased operating and cathedral choirs were dissolved by the Parliamentary authorities. It is likely that the three dialogues in this edition were composed for this society; the dialogues on Biblical subjects belong to a tradition of devotional domestic music and would have had no place in the liturgy, even before the Civil War and Commonwealth.
Hil 1 Three Dialogues