Herbert Norman Howells CH, CBE (17 October 1892 – 23 February 1983) was an English composer, organist, and teacher.
He was born in Lydney, Gloucestershire, the youngest of the six children. His father played the organ at the local Baptist church, and Herbert himself showed early musical promise, first deputising for his father, and then moving at the age of eleven to the local Church of England parish church as choirboy and unofficial deputy organist.
Howells began music lessons in 1905 with Herbert Brewer, the organist of Gloucester Cathedral, and at sixteen became his articled pupil at the Cathedral alongside Ivor Novello and Ivor Gurney. The latter became a close friend, the pair going on long walks discussing their shared love of music.
Another formative experience for the young Howells was the premiere in September 1910 of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis. Both Vaughan Williams and the Tudor composers such as Tallis, profoundly influenced Howells' later work.
In 1912, following the example of Ivor Gurney, Howells moved to London to study at the Royal College of Music. Here his teachers included Stanford,Parry and Wood. Among Howells' contemporaries in the student body were Gurney, Arthur Bliss and Arthur Benjamin.
For the most part however his music at this time was orchestral including a piano concerto, and the Three Dances for violin and orchestra. Then followed compositions for organ; the first set of Psalm Preludes (1915–16) and the first of the op. 17 Rhapsodies.
From the late 1930s Howells turned increasingly to choral and organ music, composing a second series of Psalm Preludes followed by a set of Six Pieces, of which this piece is the third, a particular favourite of the composer's, and recalled his formative experience of Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia.