If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking

Unison and Piano

Text: Emily Dickinson

Duration: 2 min

Publisher: Boosey and Hawkes 2017


Commissioned by Amabile Choirs of London, Canada.

If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking is a setting of Emily Dickinson’s poem by the same name. The text illuminates themes of generosity and selflessness. It asks us to think of others before ourselves, encouraging us to reflect the need in today’s society for humility and thoughtfulness. This unison song has a melody that weaves in and out of the piano line, creating a contemporary feel with uplifting harmonies and appealing melodic gestures.


Premiere audio


IF I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.


Published: Boosey and Hawkes 2017

Purchase from Hal Leonard

Themes: love, death, life, nature, birds, vain, selflessness, ease, health, life, living, refuge

About Composer

Matthew Emery (b.1991) is a Canadian composer whose music has been performed across North America and Asia. His music has also been broadcast on national television and radio. Matthew was the 2013 ACDA Raymond Brock Student Composition Competition winner. Emery's choral works have been performed by renowned vocal ensembles including the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Elmer Isler Singers, Pro Coro Canada, Canadian Chamber Choir, Da Capo Chamber Choir, choirs at the University of Louisville, University of Manitoba, University of Western Ontario, University of British Columbia, Ontario Youth Choir and the Nova Scotia Youth Choir. Matthew studied with Dr. Stephen Chatman at the University of British Columbia and is published by: Alliance Music Publications, GIA Publications, G. Schirmer, Pavane Publishing and Santa Barbara Music Publishing. Matthew is a member of the Canadian League of Composers.

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