The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings included the album in its suggested “core collection” of essential recordings.
The Allmusic review by Stacia Proefrock awarded the album 4½ stars, stating, "John Surman is an artist with an amazing range and depth of style, from contemporary classical to jazz to electronic music. In few places is this more evident than on A Biography of the Rev. Absalom Dawe, on which Surman acts as a sort of one-man wind chamber ensemble... Elements of modern composition, jazz, and European folk can be heard throughout and the mood is one of reflection and wintry quiet. Overall, this is one of Surman's most daring and yet most successful projects to date".