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Holst’s contact with church music was not extensive and he was certainly not a church composer. His other interests included learning Sanskrit to know more of Hindu literature and philosophy and reading about the space-time continuum.
Written in 1916, Turn back O man is the second of Three Hymns for Chorus and Orchestra. The melody (The Old 124th Psalm) is taken from the Genevan Psalter. The ostinato in the bass is a simple but effective device which makes it unusual in the anthem repertoire.
from notes by William McVicker © 1992