Throughout his career Wayne identified himself as “an occasional composer,” by which he meant that everything he composed was intended for a specific occasion. Usually this was a particular service or event at the cathedral or elsewhere, but sometimes for an outside chorus or celebration (Faith of Our Fathers, The American Adventure) and often for his students (Jonah, the operettas, and the early Christmas pageants.)
Almost all his pieces are text-based. Many are scriptural of course, but for his anthems & secular works he often looked to poets of the 16th and 17th centuries – a well-worn copy of the 1940 Oxford Book of Christian Verse was always at his bedside. But he didn’t hesitate to alter texts: He wrote a full last verse for G. K. Chesterton’s The Christ Child lay in Mary’s lap, and his poetic paraphrases of the Magnificat (to INNISFREE FARM) and the Rite II Gloria in Excelsis (to GIBBS HALL) are notable as well.
Settled on a text he set about creating just the right music. His mantra was that memorable music must first and foremost have a great tune. His Christmas anthem A Child My Choice is a good example, as is his bold setting of Rejoice Ye Pure in Heart. And he “stole from the best” – using the classic French Noël Il est né, le divin Enfant to embrace the words of the funeral hymn Now The Laborer’s Task is O’er or baldly quoting Tallis’s Third Mode Melody in the grand final hymn of Jonah.