When I look back (Robert Parsons)

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  • (Posted 2020-05-28)  CPDL #58881:       
Editor: Jason Smart (submitted 2020-05-28).   Score information: A4, 15 pages, 407 kB   Copyright: CC BY NC ND
Edition notes: A speculative reconstruction of this five-part work from a lute tablature and a single voice part. The lost topmost part has been re-composed editorially. See the critical commentary at the end of the score. Revised edition June 2020.

General Information

Title: When I look back
Composer: Robert Parsons

Number of voices: 5vv   Voicing: STTBarB
Genre: SacredPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published:
Description:  A setting of a poem by Thomas Vaux. It was probably originally composed as a consort song, but the sources suggest that it also existed with all voices fully texted and as a song for solo voice and lute.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

When I look back and in my self behold
The wand'ring ways that youth could not descry:
And mark'd the fearful course in youth too bold,
And met in mind each step youth stray'd awry:
My knees I bow, and from my heart I call,

O Lord, forget youth's faults and follies all!

For now I see, how void youth was of skill,
And know right well youth's prime time and his end:
I do confess my faults and all my ill.
And do repent that ever I did offend.
And with a mind repentant of all crimes
Pardon I ask for youth ten thousand times.

The humble heart hath daunted the proud mind:
And skill hath given to ignorance the fall :
And wisdom hath taught, that folly could not find,
And age hath youth his subject and his thrall
Therefore I pray, O Lord of life and truth,
Pardon the faults committed in my youth.

Thou that didst grant the wise king his request:
Thou that in whale thy prophet didst preserve:
Thou that forgav'st the wounding of thy breast :
Thou that didst save the thief in state to sterve:
Thou only God, the giver of all grace:
Wipe out of mind the path of youth's vain race.

Thou that, by power, to life didst raise the dead:
Thou that of grace restor'st the blind to sight:
Thou that for love, Thy life and love outbled:
Thou that of favour mad'st the lame go right:
Thou that canst heal, and help in all assays,
Forgive the guilt, that grew in youth's vain ways.

And now since I, with faith and doubtless mind,
Do fly to thee by prayer, to appease thy ire:
And since that thee I only seek to find.
And hope, by faith, to attain my just desire:;
Lord, mind no more youth's error and unskill.
And able age to do thy holy will.