John Stuart Archer was born 19th Nov 1866, at Kensington, London, and died 21st Mar 1954, Paddington, London. Despite his importance on the British organ scene, he was not an academic musician, but rather, an engineer with an interest in chemistry. The only other thing I can tell you about him was the he went by the nickname of "Blackie". Looking at some of his compositions, it's really rather hard to think of him as an amateur. He had a good mastery of "how" to write for the organ, and his works ALWAYS sound great. This one is no exception. As you will hear, his harmonies are quite conventional, but their "use" is what makes his music work so well.
The tune, which is a well-known one is usually called "Aus der Tiefe," but in some hymnals is called "Heinlein." On the score it is called "Hernlein," so perhaps the printer got it wrong when they went to press... ;-)
The text is that of one of the essential Lenten hymns, "Forty days and forty nights Thou wast fasting in the wild."
The work is the third in a group of 6 "Variations on Well-Known Hymn-Tunes," which was published by Paxton in 1928, and dedicated to To Dr. P.L.T. Bennett. These pieces are for organ or harmonium, and adapting this was trickier than I thought it would be!
Archer states the melody using a striking harmonization of the tune. This is followed by 2 "busy" variations, that are sort of "neo-Baroque" in style. The first is played mostly on diapasons, and the second used the Solo Clarinet and Swell Hautboy. The third variation builds up to full organ, and sounds quite good, although it feels a bit "awkward" in performance.
The score is attached below, as well as a picture of J. Stuart Archer.