David Lee (b. 1956) was brought up in Didsbury, Manchester, and sketched his first hymn-tune while at primary school. He has been active in church music since his early teens, accompanying the local Crusader (now "Urban Saints") youth group, and playing the piano and organ at All Hallows Church, Cheadle, Cheshire. During summer months in 1975 and 1976, he was Abbey Musician at Iona Abbey, which provided a sharp contrast to, and widened outlook from, his earlier largely conservative-evangelical background.
While an undergraduate (Geophysics) at Grey College, Durham (1975–78) he was a founder of the music team at St. Nicholas Church under its vicar, George Carey. Following a postgraduate year at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (M.Sc., Computing Science) he returned to Durham to work in the University's Computing Service, and rejoined St. Nicholas where he later became deputy leader of the music group.
These experiences, and involvement in some much smaller outlying churches in Co. Durham and in the local hospital chaplaincy, planted an increasingly acute awareness of the wide diversity of music required for the service and mission of the contemporary church. The importance of music-group styles, but also the narrow and somewhat superficial range of its music commercially available, led him towards writing music in such styles, attempting to combine quality with practical simplicity.
In 1995 the family settled at St. John's Church, Nevilles Cross, Durham, where these strands and ideas of writing were actively encouraged and began weaving together. In particular these included recovering the psalms (which, worryingly, are almost entirely lost to corporate evangelical and charismatic worship) in ways sympathetic to music-groups and small churches, but still teachable with minimal liturgical intrusion, week by week.
In 1998, he was invited to present a paper Top-down or bottom-up: restoring the balance to the World Church Music Symposium in London, pleading for a recognition of the importance both of the "small church" and also of a range of music for all churches.
Following that, he was invited to join the Durham Diocesan Liturgical Committee music subgroup (and the local RSCM education group) where he initiated and fostered a short course to give "small church" musicians a basic confidence-building grounding in music for worship.
David is a member of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and from 2007 to 2013 served on its executive committee. He was also an early encourager of the Christian Songwriting Organisation email group.
Various periodicals (e.g. Deo magazine, Stainer & Bell's Worship Live and MWF's Sing a New Song) take some of his settings from time to time. Recent entries in the St. Paul's Cathedral Millennium Hymn Competition and RSCM competitions have been highly placed. More formally, he has had tunes published in Stainer & Bell's Sound Bytes and was among the major contributors to the Methodist Wesley Music for the Millennium project. In 2006, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod published his new tune Elvet Banks in their new hymnal. In 2011 the Methodist Church published four of his tunes in the new Singing the Faith hymn book and in 2012 the combined Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) and Reformed Church in America (RCA) published seven tunes in their Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.