Twelve (a psalm)

TWELVE (a psalm)
  • for: SATB Choir, piano, Bb clarinet, cello
  • duration: approx. 8:45
  • difficulty: moderately advanced
  • text: Psalm 12 (adapted)
  • music: Original

Psalm singing dates back at least to the time of King David. It was adopted as a primary musical form of the early church as evidenced by Col. 3:16 and was maintained in the Western church throughout Medieval times. Psalms were the featured texts of most of the Reformers and were the sole mode of sacred singing among the first American settlers. Unfortunately, Psalm singing became passé with 19th century revivalism and the adoption of popular music during the 20th century. TWELVE is one member of Robert Myers’s first suite of new Psalm settings, offered as a musical exposition of Scripture, to help the church bring Psalms back into modern worship.

The brief twelfth Psalm is a lament painting a bleak scenario of utter depravity and vanishing righteousness. It could just as well have been commentary on the decline of morality in Western society. Further, rather than offering resolution to the psalmist’s lament, the Psalm merely assures that “the words of the LORD are pure words.” TWELVE attempts to capture the chaos and despair of the twelfth Psalm through open voicings, mild dissonances, hemiolas, and antiphonal sprechstimme. The psalmist’s assurance is portrayed in a contrasting section of subdued peacefulness painted with flowing themes and conventional harmonies. TWELVE is moderately difficult but uses a very light orchestration to complement the vocal performance with rich instrumental color that can be easily programmed. It is well suited to advanced scholastic ensembles or adventurous church choirs.

Here’s my live recital choir creating the first performance of this work. It’s a little rough, as we had a short time to work up the piece but this captures most of the spirit of the work:

Watch for sheet music availability coming soon.

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