Jay Ducharme - Jay Ducharme

Publisher Desc. To me all of the psalms are, at their heart, songs of praise. So my intent was to find separate conceptual themes in the psalms and combine them into one big praise hymn. I didn't want a bouncy upbeat melody, since most of the psalms don't take that tone. So I chose to echo the feel of a Gregorian chant, which to me feels worshipful without fawning. I kept the piano part to a minimum to throw emphasis in that direction, and I also ended the piece on a perfect fifth (the most-used chord in Gregorian chants). Lyrically, I chose three different psalm styles. The sopranos open with a simple statement of praise typical of many psalms. The altos follow with another common theme in the psalms: fear of the Lord's abandonment. But even in those moments, the faithful still cling to a belief in God's mercy. The sopranos return to emphasize that. The bass section then enters with the Lord's Prayer, a New Testament ("modern") statement of faith and praise that forms the basis for the instrumental introduction of the whole piece. To me, the Lord's Prayer is Jesus' restatement of the themes in the psalms. The sopranos return to echo that. I had debated whether to place that section last, right before the combined choir, but decided that musically it fit better in the middle. It does return as reassurance for the alto line just before all four parts combine. The final psalm theme introduced is that of war and governance, carried by the tenors. Musically, it feels like a Russian march. I can understand asking God to guide our political leaders and grant them wisdom. But I've always puzzled at how the writers of the psalms plead with God to bless them in battle. I've never been an advocate of killing in the name of God. But the psalmists wrote a large collection of such verse. So the tenor line is then balanced by the sopranos, who temper their sentiment by extolling them to praise the Lord. That section gives the first indication that the disparate melodies are going to combine. The next section with the altos and basses cements that idea, and then the payoff comes with every section singing their separate psalm idea, all joining together to form the one thread that binds all the psalms together: praising God.
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