shop talk


Yesterday after coming home from work I found time to complete an arrangement of “Wilt thou forgive that sin.”

It is a poem by John Donne.

Set to music by John Hilton.

It’s possible that Donne himself commissioned the tune for the text, but not certain.

Here’s the text.

Wilt thou forgive that sinne where I begunne,
Which is my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive those sinnes, through which I runne,
And do run still : though still I do deplore?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sinne by which I’have wonne
Others to sinne ? and, made my sinne their doore ?
Wilt thou forgive that sinne which I did shunne
A yeare, or two : but wallowed in, a score ?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sinne of feare, that when I have spunne
My last thred, I shall perish on the shore ;
Sweare by thy selfe, that at my death thy sonne
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore ;
And, having done that, Thou hast done,
I fear no more.

The poem puns on both the names of Donne and his deceased wife whom he was still mourning,  Ann (whose maiden name was Ann More).

I stripped out the alto and tenor voices added by Elizabeth Poston in 1967 to create a full four part harmonization. Hilton wrote only the melody and the bass line as was usual for his time (c. 1599–1657).

In the a Capella version I retained and slightly altered Hilton’s bass line for the lower harmony and composed a higher harmony myself.

Here’s a link (pdf)  to the finished arrangement. I also added it to my free sheet music page.

When I first began this web site (back before the term blog was was being used), it was my hope to make my work more available.


I have succeed in that. But failed to really connect with many people who would avail themselves of it. (Excepting of course the occasionally snarky publisher who detects my use of copyrighted original melodies…. this should not obtain in the Donne arrangement).

No matter. At least I have a place like Luther’s church door to tack up my stuff if any one is interested. That seems to suffice. I think of it like cyber busking. If you’re not interested, you can just move on.

I also subscribed to St. James Music Press online catalog yesterday morning in a desperate attempt to come up with anthems for the upcoming season.

For $139 a year, you can get full access to their catalog online. It’s searchable which is a plus. I use these Episcopalian composers all the time. I think a lot of their work is good. It fits the gig.

I put in for a reimbursement check while I was at work.

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