Sir Arthur Somervell (5 June 1863 – 2 May 1937) was an English composer and art song writer. After Hubert Parry, he was one of the most successful and influential writers of art song in the English music renaissance of the 1890s–1900s.
He was educated at Uppingham School and King's College, Cambridge, where he studied composition under Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. From 1883 to 1885 he studied at the High School for Music, Berlin, and from 1885 to 1887 at the Royal College of Music in London, under Parry. He studied composition with Friedrich Kiel. He became a professor at the Royal College of Music in 1894, and conducted his own works at the Leeds and Birmingham Festivals, 1895-97. He was appointed Inspector of Music at the Board of Education and Scottish Education Department in 1901, and in June the following year received the degree Doctor of Music from the University of Cambridge.
He achieved success in his own day as a composer of choral works such as The Forsaken Merman (1895), Intimations of Immortality (which he conducted at Leeds Festival in 1907), and The Passion of Christ (1914) but is now chiefly remembered for his song cycles such as Maud (after Tennyson, 1898) and the first known setting (1904) of A. E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad. His popular Handel adaptation "Silent Worship" was featured in the 1996 film Emma.
His style was conservative, and shows the influence of Mendelssohn and Brahms. He was also active in music education, and became Principal Inspector of Music for the Board of Education in 1920. He was knighted in 1929.
Alec Rowley's lovely arrangement of "The Shepherd's Cradle Song" was published by Novello in 1951. I'm assuming that this an arrangement of a solo song, as the wonderfully expressive line could hardly be anything else. Not an easy work, the effort is worth it.
The score is attached below, as well as two photos of Somervell, one of Rowley, and von Honthorst's painting of the Shepherds' Adoration.