When Godly Sorrow Moves the Soul

SATB, a cappella or with piano or organ


This original hymn was written in autumn 2005. David Macfarlane and Nathan Howe collaborated on both the text and the music, combining understandable lyrics and memorable four-part writing.

It was an inspired process. We were both surprised at how naturally this hymn came to us We know it does not belong to us personally, because neither of us can actually remember which ideas came from whom. The words and the music just came, and we were blessed to be there to write them down.

One unique feature of the music is that it begins in the key of D and ends in the key of A, allowing it to rise again to D every time it begins anew. This creates a “stepping up” effect, symbolic of repentance.

When Godly Sorrow Moves the Soul was honored with an award of distinction in the 2006 Church Music Submissions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was performed on 09 February 2007 at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.

The voice recording available here was made by David Macfarlane in 2007.

This hymn was featured in the Spring 2014 issue of Hymns Today.

This hymn was originally written in D for ease in congregational use. However, we have found in performance that it tunes much better in E-flat, and thus recommend that key for choral use.

Available Files

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Nathan Howe is a Colorado composer, performer, and teacher. If you enjoy the free music available on this website, please share it with friends, commission a composition, or make a donation. Thank you!