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. In 1919 he founded the Saint Michael's Singers and remained their conductor until 1966. 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. His "Meditation for organ on Brother James's Air" and his setting of the carol "In the bleak mid-winter" are amongst his best known compositions. He died at Cambridge on November 28, 1976.
The "Meditation on Brother James's Air" was composed in 1947, and published by OUP in 1948. It begins, as expected, in a "pastoral mood" with a calm "ostinato accompaniment". A second section, a bit more "exotic" features the Solo Clainet in a colorful dialogue with a triplet figure as a distinctive part of the melody. A dark section, using Swell strings at 16' & 8' leads to a long dominant pedal, before building to a tremendous climax, with the full melody finally appearing. The calm mood of the opening gradually returns, with the Solo Flute Harmonique hinting again at the tune.
Here is a recording of Darke playing his own work at St. Michaels, Cornhill: