A Prayer of Beauty is a re-imagining of “America, the Beautiful” written for professional, college, or advanced high school brass quartet. Independent lines, mixed meters, and adventurous harmonies will challenge musicians. But the familiar melody, rich colors, and glowing resolutions provide a delectable reward for the effort. The pathos, introspection, and hope found in the music will also leave listeners feeling enriched for the experience.
The music’s message is timely and urgent and works well for programming as commentary on current events but is also sufficiently broad and deep to complement varied concert themes. It has sufficient artistic merit to hold its own with other art music while still holding wide audience appeal.
For SATB Chorus, Clarinet, Timpani, Percussion, Piano, Cello
There are 150 psalms in the Bible, each one originally meant to be sung; and so they were for most of the last 3,000 years, beginning at the Jerusalem Temple. They were adopted as the primary song text of the early church as evidenced by Col. 3:16 and 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. Of late, hymns and choruses and popular songs with human texts have almost entirely replaced the singing of God’s word in many churches. This scarcity of Psalms in the Church’s song is a great loss which frequently motivates me to promote their increase. Thus, THIRTEEN , one member of my first suite of new Psalm settings, is offered as a to help bring the Psalms back into modern worship.
The thirteenth Psalm holds a complaint, a petition, and a confession of faith and the music of THIRTEEN portrays each with text painting appropriate to the psalmist’s words. A staggering timpani ostinato buffets away beneath the choir’s tripartite “how long” complaint, followed by a dissonant recitative petition which transitions through shimmering tonal clusters into a joyful, major-key, confession of faith blended with a NT perspective from Eph. 3:20-21.
THIRTEEN is challenging music, both in music and message, but for the adventurous music department it provides the opportunity to plumb the depths of scripture with artistry worthy of the rich heritage of Psalmody to use music to express the full message of God’s revelation. THIRTEEN is fitting to program liturgically as a musical exposition of the Psalm or in a sacred or secular concert setting. The very light orchestration complements the vocal performance with rich instrumental color without overwhelming the voices.