Arthur Milner (1894-1972) was a Newcastle based teacher, performer and composer. He was an FTCL (piano), ARCM (piano) and ARCO. He held a Durham D.Mus by examination. He had been Director of Music at Newcastle Royal Grammar School for 22 years, whilst in his younger years had been organist at St. George's, Jesmond, which had a fine 4 manual Lewis organ. He was quietly spoken, a perfect gentleman and an excellent teacher.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s he wrote a fair number of organ pieces, numbering about 20, which were published mainly by Novello and Ashdown.
It is very difficult to find biographical material about him, and photos of him are scarce.
"Meditation on Psalm 137" was published by Edwin Ashdown Ltd. in 1966. It is dedicated: "For Colin Ross".
Colin Archibald Campbell Ross (1911-1993) FRCO was an organist, pianist, conductor and composer. Of Scottish ancestry, he was Assistant Organist of Hereford Cathedral, then served at St. Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne, and at Newcastle Cathedral.
At the opening of the piece, Milner quotes from Psalm 137: "By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down: Yea, we wept when we remembered Zion."
A psalm of sad and bitter exile, this piece makes demands upon performer and listener. It is full of sorrow and longing, and builds to an intense, harsh, violent climax, before gradually falling away little by little.
To my valued listeners who find dissonant music to be rough, I would say, think of the text with its misery and hatred for the oppressors! How else could the composer set this?
These words have actually become controversial, and it has become the custom to omit the lines that call for revenge and killing. The full psalm text is given in the First Comment.
A photo of Arthur Milner is attached below, as well as some photos of the magnificent church of St. George's, Jesmond, where he served as organist. Also attached are photos of some places where Colin Ross served, although I do not have a photo of him.