William Thomas Best (13 August 1826 — 10 May 1897) studied at Carlisle Cathedral under John Norman and Abraham Young. Organist of the Pembroke Road Chapel, Liverpool, 1840-55; the Church for the Blind, Liverpool, 1847; the Royal Panopticon, Leicester Square, London, 1853-54; Lincoln’s Inn Chapel, 1854; St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London, 1855; St. George’s Hall, Liverpool, 1855-94; Wallasey Parish Church, Birkenhead, 1860-63; Holy Trinity, Liverpool, 1863; West Derby Parish Church, 1879. Engaged in 1871 to give recitals at the Royal Albert Hall (stayed for only a short time). Solo Organist at the Handel festival at the Crystal Palace. Opened the organ in Sydney Town Hall, 1890. Was one of the greatest English Organists of his time. Received a Civil List pension of £100 per annum. Composed church services, anthems, organ pieces, &c. b. Carlisle, England, Aug. 13th, 1826; d. Liverpool, May 10th, 1897 (buried in Childwell Churchyard).
Best was certainly the most famous British organist of the time, and was proclaimed by none other than Franz Liszt to be THE greatest virtuoso on ANY instrument!
He had a very large repertoire which was said to number more than 10,000 pieces.
The "Chorale Prelude on 'St. Bride'" is the second of a set of three. It can be found in "English Romantic Classics" published by McAfee Music in 1984.
In this performance, you'll hear the Choir Clarinette carrying the melody, played against the foundations of the Swell.
The tune, "St. Bride" was composed by Samuel Howard (1710-1782), and is often associated with the text:
Lord Jesus, think on me,
And purge away my sin.
From earth-born passions set me free,
And make me pure within.
Photos of Best are attached below, as well as the great Willis organ in St. George's Hall, Liverpool.