Alec Rowley was born in London on 13 March 1892, teacher, composer, organist, pianist, lecturer and writer, who studied at the RAM with Frederick Corder and where he won sundry scholarships and prizes. He was an organist at several London churches including, during the Second World War, St Margaret's, Westminster. As a pianist he often broadcast duets with Edgar Moy. He died on 11 January 1958. Many of his organ solos are brief and simple: chorale preludes, genre pieces, toccatas, marches and voluntaries suitable for the small organ and less experienced player. Sometimes he brought out more ambitious recital pieces, like the Heroic Suite of 1921, the Sonata in A minor and two symphonies in B minor and F major published late in his life, but we do not encounter these nowadays.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
Rowley composed several sets of Chorale Preludes based on Famous Hymn Tunes. The first volume deals with "Lent," and it is from this collection that these preludes are taken.
The first work in the collection is "Chorale Prelude on 'St. Hugh'" (Lord, teach us how to pray aright). It's an interesting one which puts the rather unfamiliar melody in the pedals. It's there in long notes, but the effect is still a subtle one. The work is highly romantic, and moves around quite a bit. It's almost as if the penitent is struggling to find WHICH WAY to go in his prayers!
The tune itself was composed by Edward J. Hopkins (1818-1901), who was organist of the Temple Church in London from 1843-1898.
The text was composed by James Montgomery (4 November 1771 – 30 April 1854) who was a Scottish-born poet, hymn writer and editor. He was concerned with humanitarian causes such as the abolition of slavery and of exploitation of child chimney sweeps.
The score is attached below, as well as photos of Rowley, Hopkins, and Montgomery.