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 eighth and final 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.
While this piece is not well-known, it certainly should be for reasons that are obvious and immediate!
The tune is a VERY well-known one, commonly called "St. Flavian." It originally appeared in John Day's Psalter and dates from 1562. It is associated with many texts, most commonly, "Lord, who throughout these forty days."
The text that Wood was probably thinking of was this one by Isaac Watts:
No sleep nor slumber to his eyes
Good David would afford,
Till he had found below the skies
A dwelling for the Lord.
When Wood states that this is written "Alla J.S. Bach," he is saying the truth! This brilliant piece, in the wonderful key of A, is a joyful work of praise, and the writing would make old Bach happy - although with a few "1920 English 'accents,'" particularly in the middle section. The writing is involved and difficult, and challenging to play.
It's a GREAT CONCLUSION to the 2nd book of Preludes!
The score is attached below, as well as photos of Wood, Gonville and Caius Chapel, and a page from an old hymnal, which gives the entire text.