Eternal Winter


William Blake (1757-1827)

The context for "Holy Thursday" from Blake's "Songs of Experience" is the annual Ascension Thursday service at St Paul's Cathedral; orphaned children from London's charity schools sang as they were paraded into St Paul's for religious services. Blake views "rich and fruitful" 19th c. Britain as a "land of poverty," and the future of these orphans as an "eternal winter." This visceral setting is both stark and tender; the music underscores "eternal winter" with dramatic soprano solo," phrase repetition and arching cello lines.


Item Voicing/Instrumentation Duration Price Audio View Score Quantity
Licensed PDF
SATB, optional solo, piano, cello 3:50 $2.00
Licensed PDF
SSAA, optional solo, piano, cello 3:50 $2.00
JS-004 digital purchase only 3:50 N/A
JS-005 digital purchase only N/A
PDF download
cello part

Audio Credits: 

Viriditas Vocal Ensemble, mezzo-soprano: Christina Hubbard; Joan Szymko director


Joan Szymko

Holy Thursday

Is this a holy thing to see

In a rich and fruitful land,

Babes reduced to misery,

Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song?

Can it be a song of joy?

And so many children poor?

It is a land of poverty!

And their sun does never shine,

And their fields are bleak and bare,

And their ways are filled with thorns:

It is eternal winter there.

For where'er the sun does shine,

And where'er the rain does fall,

Babes should never hunger there,

Nor poverty the mind appall.