He was born at Bradford, Yorks, on 31 January 1934, the son of a distinguished minster of the Wesleyan Reform Union. He was educated at King Edward VIl School, (formerly Wesley College, Sheffield, at Brasenose College, Oxford (where he was organ scholar and gained his FRCO) and at Wesley House, Cambridge, where he won the Carus Greek New Testament Prize. He did post-graduate studies at Heidelberg and took his PhD at Bristol in 1983. After three years as Assistant Tutor at Handsworth College and two in circuit, he taught at Lincoln Theological College, Hartley Victoria College, Manchester, and Wesley College, Bristol before becoming Principal of Wesley House 1984-1999.
He was secretary of the editorial committee of Hymns and Songs (1969) and convener of the committees producing Hymns and Psalms (1983). He himself contributed several tunes, as well as a hymn 'Christ our King before creation' (HP 75; StF 318), originally written to meet a crisis in the preparation of Hymns and Songs and inspired by a reading of Hans Küng's Justification. He was editor of the 'Epworth Commentaries' from 1990 to 2006. Among his own publications is The Contemporary Cross (1973), based on 2 Corinthians and The Matthean Parables (1995). He gave the 1977 Peake Memorial Lecture on 'Using St. Matthew's Gospel' and the Cato Lecture in 1989 on Music - a Joy for Ever.