Keble had a brilliant academic career, broken only by spells assisting in his father’s parish of Fairford, Gloucestershire, in times of illness. In 1827 he published a book of poems, The Christian Year, which became immensely popular. He never wrote hymns, but some of his poems, as with this, have had verses selected for that purpose. In 1828 he was made head (Provost) of his Oxford college, Oriel. In 1833 he preached the Assize sermon in St Mary’s University Church on ‘National Apostacy’. This marked for Newman the beginning of the Oxford Movement which was to create such an upheaval in the Church of England and beyond. In 1836 he returned to parish life. He wrote much poetry and many books but none so successful as his first.
Havergal saw that a six-line tune in a German book of 1738 could be cut down and remoulded to make this perfect gem, that has been associated with these words since 1861.
from notes by Alan Luff © 2004