Alec Rowley was born in London on 13 March 1892, teacher, composer, organist, pianist, lecturer and writer, who studied at the RAM with Frederick Corder and where he won sundry scholarships and prizes. He was an organist at several London churches including, during the Second World War, St Margaret's, Westminster. He died on 11 January 1958 while playing tennis.
I've done almost all of Rowley's chorale preludes, but here is one that I have NOT done!
To be honest, I thought this was an Advent hymn, but discovered today that in fact, it is a wedding hymn!
The melody was composed by Henry J. Gauntlett (1805-1876), famous for his masterpiece, "Once, in royal David's city," and the text written by the Rev. John Keble (1792-1866). Rowley calls the tune, "Eden," but I think it is more widely known as "St. Alphege."
As I discovered, this was once quite a well-known marriage hymn, but it appears as though it has not been included in any hymnals for about 50 years, and I think it is doubtful that it will make a comeback.
The text of the first verse is:
The voice that breathed o'er Eden,
That earliest wedding-day,
The primal marriage blessing,
It hath not pass'd away.
The "Chorale Prelude on 'Eden'" is quite typical of Rowley in that it shifts tonality often, but everything hangs together nicely. Those who have listened to other Rowley uploads will immediately identify him as the composer!
The work appears in "Volume 5 of Chorale Preludes based on Famous Hymns", and was published by Ashdown in 1952.
There is a nice sense of "proportion" in this piece, so, perhaps it can find another use, as opposed to trying to use it as wedding piece for another one of those "long-forgotten" hymns.
The score is attached below, as well as the music for the hymn. Also attached is the famous photo of Rowley, and of the composer of the hymn-tune H. J. Gauntlett, and the author of the text, the Rev. John Keble.
More Rowley Riot to come! :-)