Example 5: If we could shut the gate (Hallock)

Words: John Danyel (1564-1626), Songs for the Lute, Viol, and Voice (1606), No. 17 (originally “If I could shut the gate”), adapted by Peter R. Hallock.
Music: Peter R. Hallock (b. 1924), 2008.
Recording: The Compline Choir, 2010.

If we could shut the gate against our thoughts
And keep out sorrow from within:
Or memory could cancel all misdeeds,
And we unthink our sin,
How free, how clear, how clean our hearts would lie,
Discharged of such grievous company.

Or were there other rooms within the heart,
That did not to our conscience join so near,
Where we might lodge our thoughts apart
That we might not their clam’rous crying hear,
What peace, what joy, what ease should we possess,
Freed from the chains, our soul’s oppress.

O Saviour, who our refuge art,
Let thy mercies stand twixt them and us,
And be the wall to separate our hearts,
so that we may at length repose us free:
that peace, and joy, and rest may be within,
And we remain divided from our sin.


Back: Example 4: Dear Lord and Father of mankindNext: Example 6: Nunc dimittis (Byrd)

One thought on “Example 5: If we could shut the gate (Hallock)

  1. The piece affected me profoundly.

    Next week, my husband and I will be at St. Gregory’s Abbey in Three Rivers, Michigan. St. Gregory’s is an community of Anglican Benedictine monks. We have been visiting them for 38 years.

    Compline is, by far, the most cherished of the hours for me. There is a settling of the soul then; the poem says so well what we ask for in the particular examen each night.

    I will share the poem with my scripture group.

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