St. John Baptist

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Instrumental Only?

SATB Choir. Is your choir ready for an Advent challenge? And we mean a real challenge! This wonderful and colorful text captures all of John the Baptist's idiosyncrasies – the hair shirts, diet of locusts, ill-kempt appearance, and all the rest. The musical writing is angular and incorporates large leaps perfectly capturing all of the raspy, hoarse cries of "Repent!" sounding across the desert. This piece is difficult but well worth the effort. A real keeper! Text by William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585–1649)


The last and greatest Herald of Heaven’s King,
Girt with rough skins, hies to the deserts wild,
Among that savage brood the woods forth bring,
Which he more harmless found than man, and mild.

His food was locusts, and what there doth spring,  
With honey that from virgin hives distilled;
Parched body, hollow eyes, some uncouth thing
Made him appear, long since from earth exiled.

There burst he forth; All ye whose hopes rely
On God, with me amid these deserts mourn,
Repent, repent, and from old errors turn!
—Who listened to his voice, obeyed his cry?
Only the echoes, which he made relent,
Rung from their flinty caves, Repent! Repent!