While Vaughan Williams provided some of his own melodies for his work on the English Hymnal in the period 1904 - 1906, most of his work involved correcting, arranging, and harmonizing the various hymns. One of those he arranged was "Behold the Great Creator," listed as No. 20 in the English Hymnal. He set it to the melody from the fifteenth-century traditional English carol, Endris Nyght, and used a text from Thomas Pestel, dating to 1639. Later a new text from the 1865 Christian Hymn Book was used to fashion this hymn, "I Come, the Great Redeemer Cries." While the texts are different, their meter is virtually the same.
The hymn begins with the words, "I come, the great Redeemer cries, To do thy will, O Lord!" The melody is famous, of course, and in his arrangement, Vaughan Williams makes it sound very much in his own style. While he updates this pre-Renaissance tune, he does not quite bring it into the twentieth century, providing meaty though fairly simple harmonies, in a rather conservative post-Romantic vein. To those with an interest in church and choral music, this arrangement, of the many that have used the Endris Nyght melody, will have great appeal.