Songs of Experience: 3. Eternal Winter


William Blake (1757-1827)

One of a grouping of three settings of poetry by William Blake from his “Songs of Experience” (1794). Soprano solo. The context for this visceral setting of the poem "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." Both stark and achingly tender,the music underscores the harsh "eternal winter" with dramatic soprano solo," phrase repetition and expressive writing for cello.


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


Joan Szymko

“Holy Thursday” (Songs of Experience)

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.


Licensed PDF