Charles Wood (1866-1926) was born in Armagh, Ireland. He was a treble chorister in the choir of St. Patrick's Cathedral (Church of Ireland). He received his early education at the Cathedral Choir School. In 1883 he entered the Royal College of Music, studying composition with C. V. Stanford & C. H. H. Parry. In 1889 he attained a teaching position at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, first as organ scholar and then as fellow in 1894, becoming the first Director of Music and Organist. After Stanford died, Wood assumed his mentor's vacant role as University of Cambridge Professor of Music in 1924. His pupils included Ralph Vaughan Williams at Cambridge and Herbert Howells at the Royal College of Music.
This is the fourth piece in the second set of the "Sixteen Preludes." They were published by Stainer & Bell in 1912, and really quite "rare" pieces. I say that since I've heard very few of these played.
This work is based upon a tune that is certainly more well-known, although probably so much, at least outside of England.
It was composed by Henry Carey (1685-1743), and paired with Joseph Addison's (1672-1719) paraphrase of Psalm 23.
The style of the prelude is flowing, and not with out its difficulties. It is in G major and marked "Allegretto pastorale" in 9/8 time.
The principal difficulty is the continuous chain of legato "thirds" in the left hand, while the pedal plays a sort of "pizzicato" bass. The melody appears in long, unadorned notes in the right hand. The "pastorale" effect creates a sense of the leading of a docile flock of sheep through a pasture or perhaps beside a quiet stream.
The calm and quiet atmosphere "disguise" the difficulties involved! :-)
The registration is:
LH - Swell: Open Diapason 8', Lieblich Flute 4' (almost closed)
RH - Solo: Harmonic Flute 8' (open) coupled to Choir: Lieblich Gedacht 8'
Pedal: Bourdon 16' coupled to Great: Stopped Diapason 8'
The score and photos of Wood, Carey and Addison are attached below.