Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander (1818–1895) was only twenty years old when she composed the beautiful words of the hymn There is a green hill
, a work of exquisite purity and tenderness of youth. Her inspiration is said to have come from a large grass-covered mound just outside her home town of Londonderry which put her in mind of the hill in the Holy Land, beyond Jerusalem’s gates, ‘where our dear Lord was crucified’. During her lifetime, Mrs Alexander wrote over four hundred hymns including Once in Royal David’s City
and All things bright and beautiful
, two hymns which have remained extremely popular with adults and children alike.
The tune ‘Horsley’ was named after its composer, William Horsley (1774–1858), a London-born organist and composer who was one of the founders of the Philharmonic Society in London (1813). The flowing melody and simple harmonies of his hymn tune complement perfectly the fresh simplicity of Mrs Alexander’s poetry.
from notes by Sarah Langdon © 1999