Harold Edwin Darke was born in London, October 29, 1888, he studied the organ with Parratt and attended the Royal College of Music, where he studied composition with Charles Villiers Stanford. He had a world-wide reputation as one of the finest organists of his era. He held positions at Emmanuel Church, West Hampstead (1906) and at St. James's Paddington. For fifty years from 1916 to 1966, he was organist of St. Michael's Cornhill, London. His weekly Monday lunch time recitals there became an institution. During the second war he deputised at Kings College, Cambridge for Boris Ord from 1941 to 1945, who was on war service. Darke was president of the Royal College of Organists 1940-41 and a member of the teaching staff at the R.C.O. from 1919 to 1966, in which year he was appointed C.B.E. He died at Cambridge on November 28, 1976.
"Three Chorale Preludes" were published by Novello in 1919. This set of three form an important part of Darke's organ works. The first piece in the group is the "Chorale-Prelude on the tune 'St Peter'". It is dedicated: "To Herbert N. Howells."
It is based upon the tune, "St. Peter," composed by Alexander Reinagle (1799-1877), and paired with the text, "How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds," written by John Newton (1725-1807).
Darke sets the piece in an eloquent manner. The form is the "grand arch" requiring skill and refinement in managing the crescendo and decrescendo. I can not help but hear a strong affinity with the works of C. H. H. Parry, who had passed away the year before this was written.
The piece has a true "cathedral effect," and the closing bars are quite magical.
The score is attached below, as well as a photo of Harold Darke at the organ of St. Michael's, Cornhill, several of the church itself, and one of Herbert Howells, taken around the time this piece was written.
The first verse of the hymn is given in the First Comment.