In a broadcast to mark his ninetieth birthday in 1982, Howells recounted how he received the words of this hymn by Robert Bridges in the post one morning whilst in the middle of breakfast. Almost immediately a tune suggested itself to him and the hymn was apparently composed on the spot (in the composer’s words) ‘while I was chewing bacon and sausage’. The words had been sent by his friend T P Fielden, director of music at Charterhouse, and the hymn, composed in 1930, was originally called simply A Hymn Tune for Charterhouse, where it was regularly sung. Fielden was one of the editors of The Clarendon Hymn Book, and when that book was published in 1936, the year after Michael’s death, it included Howells’ hymn, now christened ‘Michael’, in his memory. The descant to the final verse on this recording is by John Rutter.
from notes by Paul Andrews © 2012