Towards the end of the nineteenth century many Christians thought the Church to be in great danger, from without—from the acts of politicians, the development of science, especially Darwin’s Theory of Evolution—and from within as new ideas were put forward on the nature of the biblical record of the faith and as changes in worship were introduced. Such hymns as this one by E H Plumptre and ‘The Church’s one foundation’ were intended to bolster up the faithful. It is unlikely that this hymn would have been such a success had it not been given in 1898 this tune, ‘Thornbury’, written for a choirs’ festival at St Paul’s Cathedral. It is a fine confident melody, with the final ‘One Church, one Faith, one Lord’ sung emphatically on the most important notes of the scale (the fifth and the tonic). Basil Harwood was a church-music composer of some importance at the turn of the century, being organist of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. He was brought up in south Gloucestershire and most of his tunes have names from those parts. He went to school for a short time in Thornbury, a town some twelve miles north of Bristol.
from notes by Alan Luff © 1999