Richard Purvis (August 25, 1913 - December 25, 1994) was an American organist and composer. After early studies in the piano and the organ he entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1934. Further studies were with E. C. Bairstow, , Marcel Dupré, and Charles Courboin.
During World War II, while serving as a bandmaster with the 28th Infantry Division, Richard Purvis was captured and held as a prisoner of war for six months. In 1947 he was appointed to Grace Cathedral, where he helped to form a cathedral school for boys, thus continuing the all-male choir tradition. Purvis's long and distinguished career was marked by elegant service playing, conducting and composition. After his retirement in 1971 he continued to perform and compose.
You really couldn't ask for a more "typical Purvis" piece than the "Prelude on Greensleeves" ('What Child is this?') It has all the features that are associated with his writings: lush harmonies, creative and extensive use of solo stops, and always a sense of "popular appeal," with music that interests and even at times amuses the listener/worshipper.
This piece was published by MCA Music in 1944, but you can find it in "The Oxford Book of Christmas Organ Music," published in 1995. The work is dedicated to the well-known American organist, Claribel Thompson. It so happens that I went to school with her daughter, Barbara, who occasionally substituted for me when I still had my synagogue job.
During the performance you'll hear these famous Skinner solo stops: the French Horn, the Orchestral Oboe, and finally the wonderfully rich Clarinet.
Purvis calls for a pedal "drum beat" in the pedal, probably because he is depicting the camels bringing the Three Kings to the Christ Child.
There is one more "special effect," at the end - but you'll need to listen to to find out what it is... ;-)
Photos of Richard Purvis, Grace Cathedral, and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Chicago are attached.