Saturday, March 10, 2018

Psalm 55

This Psalm is long, and when I read it I saw three fairly over sections.  Also, it has a pleading tone, which made me think of the blues.  So, I split the psalm into three sections and roughly the harmony, at least the bass line, corresponds with the three harmonic sections of a twelve bar blues.  However, the psalmist doesn't seem to be on sure footing.  There is a liminal or unsure tone to the psalmist's pleas.  To represent this harmonically I used a lot of parallel motion or so-called "chord planing" a la Revel's impressionistic music.  

Friday, March 9, 2018

Psalm 54

1. Save me, O God, | by your | Name; *
    in your | might, de- | fend my | cause.

2. Hear my | prayer, O | God; *
    give ear to | the words | of my | mouth.

3. For the arrogant have risen up against me,
    and the ruthless have | sought my | life, *
    those who have | no re- | gard for | God.

4. Behold, God | is my | helper; *
    it is the | Lord who | sustains my | life.

5. Render evil to those who | spy on | me; *
    in your faith- | fulness, | destroy |them.

6. I will offer you a | freewill | sacrifice *
    and praise your Name, O | LORD, for | it is | good.

7. For you have rescued me from | ever-y | trouble, *
    and my eye has seen | the ruin | of my | foes.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Psalm 53

For reasons I have yet to discern, reading Psalm 53 made me think of Oliver Nelson's minor blues tune Cascades from his album Blues and the Abstract Truth.  So, I decided to quote the first ten notes of the melody as the soprano line of the chant.  

1. The fool has said in his heart, "There | is no | God." *
    All are corrupt and commit abominable acts;
    there is | none who | does any | good.

2. God looks down from heaven | upon us | all, *
    to see if there is any who is wise,
    if there is | one who | seeks after | God.

3. Everyone has proved faithless;
    all alike | have turned | bad; *
    there is none who | does good; | no, not | one.

4. Have they no know- | ledge, those | evildoers *
    who eat up my people like bread
    and | do not | call upon | God?

5. See how greatly they tremble,
    such trembling as | never | was; *
    for God has scattered the bones of the enemy;
    they are put to shame, because God | has re- | jected | them.

6. Oh, that Israel's deliverance would come | out of | Zion! *
    when God restores the fortunes of his people
    Jacob will re- | joice and | Israel be | glad.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Psalm 52

This psalm is angry.  There is just no two ways about it, the author was angry, expresses anger, and is far from happy.  However, as with several psalms, the mood shifts in the last two verses. The poet is no longer admonishing the proud; rather the poet effusively praises God.  To portray both of these emotional characteristics musically I wrote two sections.  The first section is dissonant with lots of crunchy chords. The second section has the same soprano and bass lines, but the harmonies are both more consonant and traditionally functional. 

1. You tyrant, why do you | boast of | wickedness *
    against the | godly | all day | long?

2. You plot ruin;
    your tongue is like | a sharpened |  razor, *
    O |worker | of de- | ception.

3. You love evil | more than | good *
    and lying | more than | speaking the | truth.

4. You love all | words that | hurt, *
    | O you | deceitful | tongue.

5. Oh, that God would de- | molish you | utterly, *
    topple you, and snatch you from your dwelling,
    and root you out of | the land | of the | living!

6. The righteous shall | see and | tremble, *
    and they | shall laugh | at him, | saying,

7. "This is the one who did not take God | for a | refuge, *
    but trusted in great wealth and | relied | upon | wickedness."

8. But I am like a green olive tree in the | house of | God; *
    I trust in the mercy of | God for | ever and | ever.

9. I will give you thanks for what | you have | done *
    and declare the goodness of your Name in | the presence | of the | godly.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Psalm 51

This is probably THE Lenten Psalm of all the Psalms; so, I tried to make it penitential.  I'm not sure if the second chord on the second line works, but nonetheless, I'm sticking with it.