Francis Lyon Cohen

Rabbi & writer on Jewish liturgical music

Rabbi Francis Lyon Cohen was born in Aldershot, England and studied at Jews’ College in London with a focus on Jewish liturgy. Cohen also had a great interest in Jewish music, and supplemented his studies with courses in the Arts Department at University College in London. He held many posts before his official rabbinical ordination in 1905, working in South Hackney, London (1883-1885), Dublin Synagogue (1885-1886) the Borough New Synagogue in London (1886-1904) and as a chaplain in the Brittish Army. After his ordination Cohen was hired as the chief Rabbi of the Sydney Great Synagogue, and continued his chaplaincy work in the Australian Army. His passion for the development of Jewish liturgical music was steady throughout his life. Cohen edited several collections of Jewish music, including A Handbook of Synagogue Music for Congregational Singing (with B.L Mosely, 1889) and The Voice of Prayer and Praise (with D.M Davis, 1899 and 1914).  In addition to his editorial work, Rabbi Cohen published several articles on the use of music in the Synagogue, including Song in the Synagogue (1889); Synagogue Music; Its History and Character (1883) and Synagogue Plain-Song (1897). Cohen also composed his own arrangements for use in the Synagogue, many of which were published in Lyra Anglo-Judaica. Cohen died of cancer in Potts Point on 26 April 1934.