George Dyson was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, on 28 May 1883. He attended the Royal College of Music and was a winner of the Mendelssohn Scholarship in 1905, which enabled him to spend some years in Italy and Germany. In 1914 he joined the Royal Fusiliers, and during this time wrote a widely used training pamphlet on the use of grenades. After being invalided home with shell-shock in 1916 and recovering, he joined the Royal Air Force where he completed the RAF March Past drafted by Walford Davies. In 1921 he took up posts as music master at Wellington College and as professor of composition at the Royal College of Music. He worked as a school music teacher (at Rugby, Wellington and Winchester), before being appointed as Director of the Royal College of Music in 1937. He received a knighthood in 1941 and was made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in 1953. He died in Winchester on 28 September 1964, aged 81.
His compositions include a symphony in G major (1937), a violin concerto, and a number of other works, many of them for choir. A pair of major works by Dyson, each lasting about ninety minutes, are two choral works: the poem cycle Quo vadis for solo quartet, semi-chorus, chorus and orchestra; and The Canterbury Pilgrims, for soprano, tenor, baritone, chorus, and orchestra. In 1935 he wrote "Nebuchadnezzar", in the shadow of William Walton's "Belshazzar's Feast" from 1931.
Dyson composed some fifty works for the liturgy of the Church of England, including two complete morning and evening canticles in D major and F major, as well as a setting of the evening service in C minor for trebles. The evening services remain popular in English churches and cathedrals, and are certainly part of the core repertoire.
In the Oxford Companion to Music, Percy Scholes described his compositions as "skilful, sometimes deeply felt, but never forward-looking in idiom."