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Psalms for the Spirit


Psalms have always played a central part in Christian, as in Jewish worship. With the shift of emphasis in worship in England after the Protestant Reformation, Psalms, in one form or another, metrical or unmetrical, assumed even greater importance. While the Catholic Divine Office relied on Gregorian chant, the Church of England developed its own practice of harmonized chants, the composition of which became, in the present writer's experience, part of childhood compositional training, as the apprentice moved on from composing a single chant, to the composition of double chants or even quadruple chants. Many of the Psalms included here are sung to harmonized double chants, suited to the differing line lengths of the translated Psalm verses.

George Mursell Garrett was born in 1834 in Winchester, where his father was master of choristers at the Cathedral. He studied with Stephen Elvey at New College, Oxford, returning to Winchester as a pupil and then assistant to Samuel Sebastian Wesley at the Cathedral, before moving to Madras as cathedral organist. In 1857 he became organist at St John's College, Cambridge, succeeding John Larkin Hopkins as University Organist in 1873. His oratorio The Shunamite, performed in Cambridge and at the Hereford Festival in 1882, has long fallen from choral repertoire, but his settings of Church of England services and other church music are still performed. His chant for Psalm 126, is a model of its kind, while the setting for Psalm 93 finds a place for greater implied drama.

The English composer and organist John Goss, greatuncle of the Goss-Custard organist brothers, was himself the son of an organist. He served as a chorister in the Chapel Royal from the age of eleven, subsequently studying with Thomas Attwood. He embarked on a career as an organist that took him to Stockwell Chapel, to St Luke's, Chelsea, and in 1838 to St Paul's Cathedral, where he succeeded Attwood. In 1856 he was appointed a composer of the Chapel Royal and was knighted in 1872. He composed a quantity of church music and edited collections of chants and hymns for the Anglican liturgy. His chant for Psalm 127 is typical of the elegant simplicity that he could command.

A pupil of Herbert Brewer at Gloucester Cathedral, in 1912 Herbert Howells was enabled by a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music in London, where his teachers were Stanford and Charles Wood. He served as sub-organist at Salisbury Cathedral, but when ill-health brought this to an end, he was able to establish himself as a composition teacher at the Royal College. In 1936 he followed Gustav Holst as Director of Music at St Paul's Girls' School in Hammersmith and in 1950 became King Edward VII Professor of Music at London University, positions he held concurrently. Among his varied compositions is a distinguished contribution to church music, represented here by his double chant for Psalm 121 and his more elaborate setting of O pray for the peace of Jerusalem, a setting of words from Psalm 122, both tinged with characteristic melancholy.

A grandson of the publisher George Smart and son of the violinist and piano manufacturer Henry Smart, Henry Thomas Smart showed an early interest in organ construction. He served as organist in Blackburn, St Philip's, Regent Street, St Luke's, Old Street and St Pancras, Euston Road. His compositions included works for organ and church settings, in addition to secular cantatas. He is remembered largely for a group of hymn-tunes and is represented here by a double chant for Psalm 65.

The setting of Psalm 67 by the Welsh composer William Mathias was written in 1981 for the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. The leading Welsh composer of his generation, Mathias studied at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Lennox Berkeley. After a period teaching at Edinburgh University he returned to Wales, where he became Professor of Music at Bangor. He established an international reputation for himself as a composer with a wide variety of compositions, among which his choral works hold a significant place. He treats the words taken from Psalm 67 with some freedom in a mood of happy celebration.

At first a chorister in the Chapel Royal, Thomas Attwood, in 1781, became a Page in the household of the Prince of Wales, who sent him to study in Naples and then in Vienna, in the latter city as a pupil of Mozart. Returning to London in 1787, he continued his connection with the court and was appointed organist at St Paul's Cathedral and composer of the Chapel Royal, eventually to take the position of organist. In the last decade of the eighteenth century he wrote a quantity of music for the theatre, but his principal contribution in the end turned out to be to church music, here represented by a double chant sung to Psalm 41.

A chorister in the Chapel Royal under John Blow, William Croft represents a musical link between the England of Purcell and that of the early Hanoverians. As an adult he served as organist to the Chapel Royal and in 1708 succeeded Blow as Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal and composer, also holding the position of organist at Westminster Abbey. His compositions include works for organ, instrumental and secular vocal music, with a quantity of church music, including services and anthems. His Burial Service was published in his Musica Sacra of 1724. Included here is the simple and moving setting of the Burial Sentences, 'I am the resurrection and the life', 'I know that my Redeemer liveth', and 'We brought nothing into this world', the opening words of the service.

Noel Edison is founding conductor of the Elora Festival Singers, conductor of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Mendelssohn Singers, and organist and choirmaster at St John's Church, Elora, which has one of the few all-professional church choirs in Canada. He is Artistic Director of the Elora Festival which he co-founded and has led for many successful seasons. In 2002 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Guelph for his longstanding contribution to choral music in Canada. His chant for Psalm 137 makes inventive use of the form of the Anglican chant, well suited to 'By the waters of Babylon'.

A pupil of Henry Farmer, Edward Bairstow was then articled to Frederick Bridge at Westminster Abbey. In 1899 he became organist at the parish church in Wigan, moving from there to Leeds and in 1913 to York Minster, retaining this last position until his death in 1946. At the same time he served, from 1929, as Professor of Music at Durham University. He enjoyed a considerable reputation as a choral conductor in the north of England and as a teacher. He was knighted in 1932 and left a quantity of church music that remains part of standard cathedral choral repertoire.

A former chorister and Choral Scholar of King's College, Cambridge, and member of the King's Singers, Bob Chilcott has been a full-time composer since 1997. He served for seven years as conductor of the chorus of the Royal College of Music in London and is Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Singers. His compositions include a quantity of choral music, with music for children's choirs, that has found a wide international audience. His 'My Prayer', a setting of words from Psalm 102, in a more contemporary musical language, is a moving petition, an intense meditation and effective contrast to the more traditional chants here recorded.

Matthew Larkin was born in Oxford and moved as a child to Canada, where he was a chorister at St George's Anglican Cathedral in Kingston, Ontario. He studied at the University of Toronto, where he was an Organ Scholar of Trinity College, and at the Royal College of Musíc in London. After various important appointments as organist and choirmaster he is now organist and director of music at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa, and is Artistic Director of the Anglican Chorale of Ottawa and the Founding Director of Euphonia Chamber Choir. He enjoys an international reputation as an accompanist, recitalist and recording artist. As a composer he has contributed variously to choral repertoire. His chant for Psalm 111 aptly explores the possibilities of the Anglican chant.

A nephew of the church reformer John Wesley and son of Charles Wesley, Samuel Wesley inherited considerable musical ability from his parents. Born in Bristol in 1766, by the age of eight he had written his first oratorio, to the astonishment of the composer William Boyce, who visited the family. In 1778, although his musical proclivities were controlled by his parents for what seemed his own good, a set of harpsichord sonatas by the boy was published as his Opus 1. In the same year the family had moved to London and Samuel and his elder brother, Charles, gave concerts. Attracted to the Catholic church by the music rather than the doctrine, Samuel Wesley, from 1780 onwards, set a number of Latin texts. An accident in 1787 had a serious effect on his health and character and the influence of a nonconformist minister with unorthodox views on marriage persuaded him to leave the wife he had married in 1793, after only two years, and live with his housekeeper, who bore him more children, including Samuel Sebastian Wesley, who was to win even greater distinction as a composer of church music. Often virtually destitute, Wesley nevertheless remained an influential figure among his friends and fellow-musicians, and did much to foster an interest in the music of Bach. His compositions, dominated by his Latin church music, include services and settings for the Anglican liturgy, secular vocal music, a number of organ volumntaries, with other keyboard works of a less substantial but more immediately profitable nature. Something of his skill as a composer is heard in his psalm chant, Quemadmodum, Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks.

Hubert Parry was a pupil of Henry Hugo Pierson at Exeter College, Oxford, and before completing his degree in 1870 had had a setting of the Anglican morning service sung at Magdalen College. Nevertheless he was not one of those musicians trained initially exclusively in Anglican church traditions. His career brought a professorship at Oxford and the direction of the Royal College of Music in London. As a composer he wrote music of many genres, for the theatre, for the concert hall and for domestic use. Inevitably for a musician of his generation he wrote church music, although in his religious compositions he often drew on non-liturgical texts, as in his choral setting of Blake's Jerusalem. He wrote oratorios, Judith, King Saul and Job, set the canticles for Evensong first as a schoolboy, and lived to provide a Te Deum for the coronation of King George V in 1911. His anthem 'I was glad when they said unto me', a setting for eight voices and organ of Psalm 122, was written for the coronation of King Edward VII, when Parry was elevated from a knighthood to a baronetcy, and has found a place in later coronation services.

Keith Anderson



[Track 1] Psalm 126 (Garrett)

1. When the Lord restored the fortunes of Sion,
then were we like unto them that dream.
2. Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
and our tongue with joy.
3. Then said they among the nations,
the Lord hath done great things for them.
4. Yea, the Lord hath done great things for us already;
where of we rejoice.
5. Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
as the rivers in the South.
6. They that sow in tears
shall reap in joy.
7. He that now goeth on his way weeping, and beareth forth his seed,
Shall doubtless come again with joy, and bring his sheaves with him.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, And to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be World without end. Amen.

[2] Psalm 127 (Goss)

1. Except the Lord build the house,
their labour is but lost that build it.
2. Except the Lord keep the city,
the watchmen keepeth vigil but in vain.
3. It is but lost labour that ye haste to rise up early and so late take rest,
and eat the bread of carefulness.
for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
4. Lo, children and the fruit of the womb
are an heritage and gift that cometh of the lord.
5. Like as the arrows in the hand of the giant,
even so are the children of one's youth.
6. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:
they shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, etc.

[3] O, pray for the peace of Jerusalem from Psalm 122 (Howells)

O pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
They shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within thy walls and plenteousness within thy palaces.
O pray for the peace of Jerusalem
They shall prosper that love thee.

[4] Psalm 121 (Howells)

1. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills:
O whence cometh my help?
2. My help cometh even from the Lord,
who hath made heaven and earth.
3. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
and he that keepeth thee will not sleep.
4. Behold, he that keepeth Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep
5. The Lord himself is thy keeper:
the Lord is thy defence upon thy right hand;
6. So that the sun shall not burn thee by day,
neither the moon by night.
7. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul.
8. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in,
from this time forth for ever more.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, etc.

[5] Psalm 65 (Smart)

1. Praise is due to thee O God in Sion
and unto thee shall the vow be performed in Jerusalem.
2. Thou that hearest the prayer,
unto thee shall all flesh come.
3. My misdeeds prevail against me:
O be thou merciful unto our sins.
4. Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and receivest
that he may dwell in thy courts.
5. We shall be satisfied with the pleasures of thy house,
even of thy holy temple.
6. Thou shalt show us wonderful things in thy righteousness, O God of our salvation,
thou that art the hope of all the ends of the earth, and of them that remain in the broad sea;
7. Who in his strength setteth fast the mountains,
and is girded about with power;
8. Who stilleth the raging of the seas,
the roaring of the waves, and the tumult of the peoples.
9. They also that dwell in the uttermost parts of the earth are afraid at thy tokens,
thou that makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to praise thee
10. Thou visitest the earth and blessest it:
thou makest it very plenteous.
11. The river of God is full of water:
thou preparest their grain, for so thou providest for the earth.
12. Thou waterest her furrow, smoothing the ridges there of:
thou makest it soft with the drops of rain, and blessest the increase of it.
13. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness;
and thy paths drip with fatness.
14. The pastures of the wilderness drip;
and the little hills rejoice on every side.
15. The pastures are clothed with flocks:
the valleys also stand so thick with grain that they laugh and sing.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son, etc.

[6] Let the people praise thee, O God from Psalm 67 (Mathias)

Let the people praise thee, O God:
yea, let all the people praise thee.
O let the nations rejoice and be glad,
for thou shalt judge the folk righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.
Let the people praise thee, O God:
yea, let all the people praise thee.
Then shall the earth bring forth her increase,
and God, even our own God, shall give us his blessing.
God shall bless us:
and all the ends of the world shall fear him.
God be merciful unto us, and bless us:
and shew us the light of his countenance, and be merciful unto us.
That thy way may be known upon earth:
thy saving health among all nations.
Let the people praise thee, O God,
yea, let all the people praise thee.
O let the nations rejoice and be glad.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: etc.

[7] Psalm 41 (Attwood)

1. Blessed is he that considereth the poor and needy;
the Lord shall deliver him in the time of trouble.
2. The Lord preserve him and keep him alive, that he may be blessed in the land;
and deliver not thou him into the will of his enemies.
3. The Lord comfort him when he lieth sick upon his bed;
thou makest all his bed in this sickness.
4. I said, 'Lord be merciful unto me;
heal my soul for I have sinned against thee.'
5. Mine enemies speak evil of me,
saying, 'When shall he die and his name perish?'
6. And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity,
and his heart conceiveth falsehood within himself, and when he goeth forth he telleth it.
7. All mine enemies whisper together against me;
even against me do they imagine this evil.
8. 'Some deadly thing' say they, 'hath laid hold upon him;
and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more.'
9. Yea, even mine own familiar friend whom I trusted,
who did also eat of my bread, hath lift up his heel against me.
10. But be thou merciful unto me O Lord;
raise thou me up and I shall reward them
11. By this I know thou favourest me,
that mine enemy doth not triumph against me.
12. And as for me, because of mine innocency thou hast upheld me,
and hast set me before thy face forever.
13. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel,
world without end. Amen and Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, etc.

[8] Psalm 93 (Garrett)

1. The Lord is King, and hath put on glorious apparel:
the Lord hath put on his apparel, and girded himself with strength.
2. He hath made the round world so sure,
that it cannot be moved.
3. Ever since the world began hath thy throne been established:
thou art from everlasting.
4. The floods have lift up O Lord, the floods have lift up their voice:
the floods lift up their waves.
5. Mightier than the roar of many waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea,
the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mighty.
6. Thy testimonies O Lord, are very sure:
holiness becometh thine house forever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, etc.

9 Burial Sentences (Croft)

I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord:
he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.

We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
The Lord gave, and the Lorth hath taken away;
blessed be the Name of the Lord.

[10] Psalm 137 (Edison)

1. By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept,
when we remembered thee, O Sion.
2. As for our harps, we hanged them up
upon the trees that are therein.
3. For there they that led us away captive required of us a song, and they that plundered us a melody:
'Sing us one of the songs of Sion.'
4. How shall we sing the Lord's song
in a strange land?
5. If I forget thee O Jerusalem
let my right hand forget her cunning.
6. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth:
yea, if I prefer not Jerusalem in my mirth.
7. Remember the children of Edom O Lord in the day of Jerusalem:
how they said 'Down with it, down with it even to the ground.'
8. O daughter of Babylon wasted with misery
yea, happy shall he be that rewardeth thee as thou has served us.
9. Blessed shall he be that taketh thy children
and throweth them against the stones.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, etc.

[11] Psalm 114 (Bairstow)

1. When Israel came out of Egypt,
and the house of Jacob from among the strange people,
2. Judah was his sanctuary and Israel his dominion.
3. The sea saw that and fled:
Jordan was driven back.
4. The mountains skipped like rams and the little hills like young sheep.
5. What aileth thee O thou sea that thou fleddest:
and thou Jordan that thou was driven back?
6. Ye mountains that ye skipped like rams and ye little hills, like young sheep?
7. Tremble thou earth at the presence of the Lord:
at the presence of the God of Jacob:
8. Who turned the hard rock into a standing water:
and the flintstone into a springing well.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, etc.

[12] My Prayer,verse 1 from Psalm 102 (Chilcott)

Hear my prayer, O Lord: Let my crying come unto thee.
Hear my prayer, O Lord: Let my crying come unto thee.

[13] Psalm 111 (Larkin)

1. I will give thanks unto the Lord with my whole heart,
in the council of the faithful and in the congregation.
2. The works of the Lord are great,
sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.
3. His work is worthily to be praised and had in honour;
and his righteousness endureth forever.
4. The merciful and gracious Lord hath so done his marvellous works,
that they ought to be had in remembrance.
5. He hath given meat unto them that fear him;
he shall ever be mindful of his covenant.
6. He hath showed his people the power of his works,
in giving them the heritage of the nations.
7. The works of his hands are verity and judgement;
all his precepts are sure;
8. They stand fast forever and ever,
and are done in truth and equity.
9. He sent redemption unto his people;
he hath commanded his covenant forever;
holy and reverend is his Name.
10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
a good understanding have all they that do thereafter;
his praise endureth forever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, etc.

[14] Psalm 42 (Wesley)

1. Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks,
so longeth my soul after thee, O God.
2. My soul is athirst for God, yea even for the living God:
when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?
3. My tears have been my food day and night,
while all day long they say unto me 'Where is now thy God?'
4. These things will I remember as I pour out my soul within me:
how I went with the multitude, and brought them forth into the house of God,
5. With the voice of praise and thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping holy-day.
6. Why art thou so full of heaviness, O my soul?
and why art thou so disquieted within me?
7. O put thy trust in God; for I will yet give him thanks,
who is the help of my countenance and my God.
8. My soul is vexed within me; therefore will I remember thee
from the land of Jordan, from Hermon and the Little Hill.
9. One deep calleth another because of the noise of thy torrents;
all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.
10. The Lord will grant his loving-kindness in the day-time;
and in the night-season will I sing of him, and make my prayer unto the God of my life.
11. I will say unto God my rock, 'Why hast thou forgotten me?
why go I thus heavily, while the enemy oppresseth me?'
12. My bones are smitten asunder, while mine enemies reproach me,
while they say daily unto me, 'Where is now thy God?'
13. Why art thou so vexed O my soul?
and why art thou so disquieted within me?
14. O put thy trust in God, for I will yet give him thanks,
who is the help of my countenance and my God.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son etc.

[15] I was glad from Psalm 122 (Parry)

I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into the house of the Lord.
Our feet shall stand in thy gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is builded, as a city that is at unity in itself.
O pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces.


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