Jonathan D. Kroeger - Composer



for SATB Choir + Piano


SATB Choir



Year Composed



Paul Laurence Dunbar

When storms arise
And dark'ning skies
About me threat'ning lower,
To thee, O Lord, I raise mine eyes,
To thee my tortured spirit flies
For solace in that hour.

The mighty arm
Will let no harm
Come near me nor befall me;
Thy voice shall quiet my alarm,
When life's great battle waxeth warm—
No foeman shall appall me.

Upon thy breast
Secure I rest,
From sorrow and vexation;
No more by sinful cares oppressed,
But in thy presence ever blest,
O God of my salvation.

Composer's Note

Paul Laurence Dunbar was a turn-of-the-century American poet. He was one of the few Black Americans during the time following abolition to lead a successful career as a writer. His output was incredible given his incredibly short life, passing away from tuberculosis at 33 years old. "Hymn" is written with a nonstandard form that moves from shorter lines to longer lines with an AABAAB rhyme scheme. The background of why he wrote this poem in particular is unknown; however, he produced a variety of religious and spiritual poetry. I chose to set this text because of its movement from the pain of now to the bliss of the future, something that resonated loudly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.