Basil Harwood (1859-1949) was born on 11 April 1859. He went up to Charterhouse in 1874 and left in 1876 having won an Exhibition to Trinity College, Oxford where he initially studied Classics and Modern History. He then studied for a further two years, 1881–1882, at the Leipzig Conservatory under Carl Reinecke and Salomon Jadassohn.
In 1883, he became organist of St. Barnabas Church, Pimlico completing his Sonata in C# Minor here in 1885. After this success, he then moved to Ely Cathedral in 1887 where he wrote the bulk of Dithyramb, possibly his greatest organ work. His final appointment was as organist at Christ Church, Oxford and as precentor of Keble College, Oxford from 1892 to 1909. He retired early at 50 (in 1909) but continued to compose prolifically. His organ works are very significant, and the "blackness" of his scores has sometimes had him referred to as the "English Reger".
He was a man who loved walking, was fastidiously proud of his beard, and who was loved by his choristers. His choirboys called him "Old Billy"... ;-)
The "Album of Eight Pieces" dates from 1935. All, except the last, are relatively short, but full of all the characteristics of the period, and the warmth and color of Harwood's writing.
Each of the eight are "inspired" by a scriptural sentence, or a hymn or prayer reference.
"Benediction" says: "Grant us Thy peace through this approaching night."
Once again we have a piece dealing with the darkness of night, but this time, the darkness has a gentle glow, as Harwood writes in one of his favortie keys, D-flat major.
The score is attached below, as well as a photo of Harwood, of Ely Cathedral, and of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.