24 July 2006

Still more posted on psalter website

I have posted quite a lot more on my Genevan Psalter website in recent days, including the following:

1. Psalms 50 and 117, the latter of which is, of course, the shortest psalm. This I versified and arranged as recently as yesterday.

2. Six non-Genevan psalms written just over 20 years ago in the style of the English and Scottish psalters, with their regular metres. I wrote these prior to discovering the Genevan tunes, and they are posted for purposes of comparison with the more lively, and less regular metres of those tunes. Included are Psalms 25, 51, 95, 98, 130 and 137.

Psalms 51, 95 and 137 are set to original melodies composed especially for these texts. The tunes are titled MISERERE, VENITE and HICKORY ROAD respectively. I set Psalm 25 to Thomas Tallis' surprisingly haunting THIRD MODE MELODY, for which I composed transitional music between the stanzas. I say "surprisingly," because one wouldn't expect a tune with so little movement in the melody line to be as compelling as it is. The tune was further immortalized in 1910 by Ralph Vaughan Williams in his magnificent Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, one of my all time favourites.

Psalm 98 is one of the earliest metrical psalms I wrote and it is set here to my own arrangement of KINGSFOLD, which I composed three years ago. Most of these six metrical psalms could easily be matched to another tune in common metre double (CMD) or long metre double (LMD).

3. Two more biblical canticles: the First Song of the Servant of the Lord from Isaiah 42:1,3b-7 (quoted by Jesus in Matthew 12); and the Magnificat of the Virgin Mary from Luke 1:47-55. The former is set to another tune by Orlando Gibbons, SONG 22. For the latter I composed a tune especially for the text which I named SOUTH BEND, after the city where I was living at the time. Last week I finally composed a descant for the last stanza.

4. Two extrabiblical hymns: my Credo in Septuple Metre, a metrical version of the Apostles' Creed; and I Belong, a versified paraphrase of Question and Answer 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism, easily the jewel of the 16th-century Reformation confessions. Both are set to original tunes. The Credo is set to a tune, LUSIGNAN, which I composed five years ago. It is written with a 7/8 time signature, unusual in western music but common in Greek music. I Belong was originally written some two decades ago to be sung to Jean Sibelius' beloved FINLANDIA, and I actually sang it with this tune as a solo at the South Bend Christian Reformed Church. However, five years ago I composed another tune for this, which I named simply HEIDELBERG. I hope it conveys something of the feel of the text.

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