Today, February 26th, is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
Harold Edwin Darke was born in London, October 29, 1888, he studied the organ with Parratt and attended the Royal College of Music, where he studied composition with Charles Villiers Stanford. He had a world-wide reputation as one of the finest organists of his era. He held positions at Emmanuel Church, West Hampstead (1906) and at St. James's Paddington. For fifty years from 1916 to 1966, he was organist of St. Michael's Cornhill, London. His weekly Monday lunch time recitals there became an institution. During the second war he deputised at Kings College, Cambridge for Boris Ord from 1941 to 1945, who was on war service. Darke was president of the Royal College of Organists 1940-41 and a member of the teaching staff at the R.C.O. from 1919 to 1966, in which year he was appointed C.B.E. He died at Cambridge on November 28, 1976.
The well-known hymn tune, "Heinlein" is also known as "Aus der Tiefe" and is attributed to Martin Herbst (1654-1681). It is most commonly associated with the text, "Forty days and forty nights Thou wast fasting in the wild."
Darke's setting is an early piece, more recently published, and reminded me of Brahms' "Chorale Prelude and Fugue on 'O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid'" in it's texture and structure.
The Prelude features the chorale in long, unadorned notes against, a flowing accompaniment. The Fugue is nicely contrapuntal, well-judged in terms of space and climax, and solemn in its impact. The chorale appears again in long, unadorned notes, this time in the pedal.
Darke indicates that the piece is to be played "In Lenten spirit," and I've tried to do that.
It's not by any means typical of the usual Darke "sound," but still makes for a good and rare piece.
Because the work is more recently published, it is under copyright, so I can not attach it, but you may contact me if you are interested in it.
Attached below are photos of Darke and of St. Michael's, Cornhill.