Unpopular psalms

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Unpopular psalms

Post by musicus » Wed Jun 02, 2004 8:52 am

Song-settings of most of the psalms in the three-year cycle are available, and there is a good choice for some of the more frequently used texts. However, every now and then, we come across a psalm for which, apparently, there is no song-setting.

We don't use psalm tones at all in our parish, so I usually compose something. I'm sure many of us do the same.

Perhaps we could identify those psalms that are in need of setting; maybe share our own settings (via personal web pages, I suppose); and tell the forum about little-known but useful published settings.

To avoid confusion, let's use the Lectionary numbering: i.e. 'The Lord is my shepherd' = psalm 22

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Is there anybody here?

Post by musicus » Fri Jun 11, 2004 7:32 am

Meanwhile, more than a week later...

Now I know why they are "Unloved, uncommon, and unset"

:(

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Post by ILRush » Fri Jun 11, 2004 9:24 am

Be patient!

I assumed this thread would build up slowly and people would come on when they could not find a good setting for a particular week/purpose.

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Post by musicus » Fri Jun 11, 2004 10:27 pm

ILRush wrote:I assumed this thread would build up slowly and people would come on when they could not find a good setting for a particular week/purpose.

Ah! You're right. I hadn't thought of that.

Ok then: perhaps when folks see a psalmless Sunday looming, they could let us know in this thread. Someone might be able to point them to an exisiting setting, or one of us composers might like to have a go at setting it. I, for one, can rarely resist a challenge. :D

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Psalm for 11th Sunday Year C

Post by Dot » Sat Jun 12, 2004 6:48 am

Woke up this morning to do a little task on the computer to find, hot off the press (I think?), a setting by Peter Jones of this Sunday's psalm, to be used at the Birmingham Archdiocese Diaconate Ordinations.

Other suggestions are thin on the ground, which is probably why I wrote one about four years ago and presented it at Composers' Group, where it was received without a mauling. Outcome: it has sat in a file ever since and never been used to my knowledge.

If there were a website where the output of Composers' Group could be posted............ isn't this the subject of another thread, entitled "Music on the SSG Website"? Perhaps some kind person could create a link.

I agree with ILRush: give this thread time - it's a practical thread that could turn out to yield useful suggestions. Similarly with the Liturgy Office's suggestions of important texts that need musical settings - not the kind of thing to which you would give a knee-jerk reaction but which will, in time, yield a response (I hope!)

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Post by admin » Sat Jun 12, 2004 11:51 am

Dot wrote:If there were a website where the output of Composers' Group could be posted............ isn't this the subject of another thread, entitled "Music on the SSG Website"? Perhaps some kind person could create a link.

link to the thread is: Music on the SSG website.

There is no website for output of Composers' Group, but SSG is working on it. The issue is largely one of Copyright. It needs an agreement between SSG and the composer of the music and the author of the text. This has been worked on, passed for legal opinion, and is almost in a form that SSG's trustees can discuss and consider, possibly when they next meet (at the end of this month). In essence, if there is no agreement, music cannot be published here and the submitter will need to show that copyright permissions have been obtained (for example, from The Grail for their psalm texts). It will not be SSG's responsibility!

The technical side of how the music will be submitted and be made accessible is also being advanced, so that, once the agreement is finalised, then SSG can proceed fairly quickly... so: watch this space!
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This I have "Unloved".....

Post by sidvicius » Fri Aug 20, 2004 4:27 pm

To start the ball rolling I'll suggest Easter 4th sunday - psalm 117, but the one which has the response "The Stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone". Each verse is a six-liner (for added inflexibility no doubt). If anyone can give me a clue as to how to deal with this lumpen dolmen I'll be very grateful. Can it follow any metrical pattern known to music?

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Psalm 117

Post by Dot » Tue Aug 24, 2004 6:43 pm

Thanks for rekindling some interest in this section of the Forum, Sid.

Psalm 117 is a widely used psalm in Eastertide, and you have found a particularly awkward compilation of verses for the 4th Sunday of Easter, Yr B. Parts of it, though, fit neatly to music. If you find the response too lumpen, it can be replaced by "Alleluias".

Psalm Songs suggests using Patrick Geary's interesting setting, "Rejoice and be Glad" from "Psalm Songs". It only approximates, and does not cover all the verses prescribed for the week in question: are we still allowed that degree of licence? I hope so.

Clearly, the Grail is not metrical. Other translations would be unlikely to conform to a regular pattern either, though the ICEL translation claims it presumes musical performance as the norm, and special care is given to the sounds of words, their sequence and rhythm in order to appeal to composers and musicians. However, I am not sure this translation would be any easier to set IMHO.

Abandoning the prospect of using any one translation verbatim, look at a number of different ones and try compiling your own, if you are inclined to compose your own settings. Patrick's text for "Rejoice and be Glad" is his own, and works well for me.

Michael Hodgetts has written metrical versions of a limited number of psalms (don't think Ps 117 is amongst them, from memory). They are not published, but PM me if you are interested in seeing them. I have asked for them to be made accessible via the SSG website, though only to SSG members.

Patrick Lee's book, "I wake refreshed" also contains a limited number of psalm texts.

Not a specific solution to the problem you posed, I'm afraid, unless the approximate solution is acceptable.

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25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Post by musicus » Mon Sep 13, 2004 9:05 pm

OK; next Sunday's psalm is a case in point (25th Sunday in Ordinary Time). SSG liturgy planner suggests two settings: Ridge (which I don't have) and Deiss (which is OK, if somewhat relentless). Normally, I'd make a new setting myself, but in this case I can't feel inspired: the response is uninspiring, the verses are irregular (5 lines / 6 lines / 4 lines) and the Psalmist's 'varied couplets' strangely unpoetic (e.g. "to set him in the company of princes, / yes, with the princes of his people."), not to mention the dungheap in verse 2.

I suppose it's hardly surprising that composers have not queued up to set it. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

If not, I could always use a Common Psalm.

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Post by Dot » Thu Sep 16, 2004 9:57 pm

This is from memory, because I don't possess the book, but there is a setting with Gelineau verses and a response by Bill Tamblyn in that red Responsorial Psalm Book (ed. G Boulton-Smith?).

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Post by Merseysider » Thu Sep 16, 2004 11:36 pm

But how many congregations can sing that top Eb (on "Lord") while sitting down? Something else we should consider when composing – where are the congregation at this point? How are they feeling? Result" Most of my psalms are much lower and disgustingly gooey!

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Post by Dot » Fri Sep 17, 2004 1:06 pm

Funnily enough, M, that was my first reaction to the setting. Why did Bill write it in Eb? Perhaps because the verses were written in Eb, or perhaps because Bill has a tenor voice. I can't imagine Gelineau's "The Lord is my Shepherd" in any other key.

So what did our group do? We modified it slightly and put it into the key of C. Should we have asked permission???????????????????????

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Break it Up, move it along please...

Post by sidvicius » Fri Sep 17, 2004 1:50 pm

Just a quick post 'cause I'm in a hurry
Musicus mentioned:
the verses are irregular (5 lines / 6 lines / 4 lines)
While the psalms are often written in the 'poetic' style, they can sometimes be broken down/moved about a bit, to flow more smoothly - and actually make more grammatical sense - it just depends on where you decide the next line should begin. That sometimes helps me to wangle, say, a six-liner into a 'long' (e.g. eight line) verse.

Unfortunately, in the example I set, this do not appear to be the case, dagnabbit.

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Post by musicus » Fri Sep 17, 2004 4:15 pm

Dot wrote:So what did our group do? We modified it slightly and put it into the key of C. Should we have asked permission?

No. This sort of adaptation to practical realities has always gone on (e.g. transposing Classical lieder to suit different voices).

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Re: Break it Up, move it along please...

Post by musicus » Fri Sep 17, 2004 4:21 pm

sidvicius wrote:Unfortunately, in the example I set, this do not appear to be the case, dagnabbit.

Quite so, Sid. Otherwise I would have wrangled them into regular stanzas. :)

M

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