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While I was Fearing It


Choral | SSAATTBB Unaccompanied Choir | 3′

Product Description:

Preview Score


Please note: 10 copy minimum. Please purchase one copy per member of your choir.

Program Note:

Despite growing up with Emily Dickinson’s poetry, it felt like I began to truly hear her words during the pandemic. Though many of her poems address themes of isolation and grief that felt all too relevant during quarantine, “While I was fearing it, it came” highlights life’s anxieties and feelings of uneasy anticipation. When I wrote the initial sketch, we were still in the height of quarantine and each new headline brought with it anxiety and uncertainty. This poem brought me some comfort as well as a reminder to, as my late grandfather would say, “cross that bridge when you get to it.” This year, I was finally able to give musical life to this poem, representing anxiety with fragmented lines and short and sharp articulation in contrast with slow lyric melismas, almost as if the narrator is trying to get a hold of their breath.

Although the work is written for eight voices, it is really meant to represent the complexity of thought in times of great fear and anxiety. The work begins with a single voice – a single thought – and then spirals as the poem reflects on both the anxiety of anticipation and the reality of things actually coming to pass. The piece crescendos, highlighting the sheer effort that this takes – the “trying on the utmost” – before cascading down, all thoughts in homophony. The singers then decrescendo until the first voice is the only voice left – finally finishing their train of thought.


SSAATTBB unaccompanied choir


Demo coming soon!


While I was fearing it, it came

Emily Dickinson


WHILE I was fearing it, it came,

But came with less of fear,

Because that fearing it so long

Had almost made it dear.

There is a fitting a dismay,

A fitting a despair.

’T is harder knowing it is due,

Than knowing it is here.

The trying on the utmost,

The morning it is new,

Is terribler than wearing it

A whole existence through.