Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund


When All Is Done - (2010)    

Paul Laurence Dunbar

for medium voice and piano


When all is done, and my last word is said,
And ye who loved me murmur, “He is dead,”
Let no one weep, for fear that I should know,
And sorrow too that ye should sorrow so.

When all is done and in the oozing clay,
Ye lay this cast-off hull of mine away,
Pray not for me, for, after long despair,
The quiet of the grave will be a prayer.

For I have suffered loss and grievous pain,
The hurts of hatred and the world’s disdain,
And wounds so deep that love, well-tried and pure,
Had not the pow’r to ease them or to cure.

When all is done, say not my day is o’er,
And that thro’ night I seek a dimmer shore:
Say rather that my morn has just begun,--
I greet the dawn and not a setting sun,
When all is done.

[ 3 pages, circa 4' 00" ]

Paul Laurence Dunbar


The text is found in Dunbar's collection, Lyrics of the Hearthside, 1899. Musing about what a eulogist might say at the funeral celebration of a life is a universal stirring among men, whether in humor or sarcasm, seriousness and with religiosity, or in some other of man's many modes of thought and fear. Dunbar offers a hymn of hope in his metaphor, "greet the dawn." Not his alone of course, for this sentiment is shared by many. It was among the sentiments my mother expressed over my father's funeral, and for this it has become mine as well. Dunbar says it beautifully, while recalling loss and pain in the same few stanzas. For other of my song settings to this classic American poet, click here.



The form is a simple AABA with a short coda of sorts. Dressed in shades of quieter dynamics, it rises to recall the pains in life, and retires into pianissimi to ponder the peace of death.



The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


When All Is Done