I have set three Psalms for choir in the past, and each one has been for a specific occasion, and each setting used the Latin text. The first was for the 25th anniversary of girl choristers joing the boys in the choir at Edinburgh Cathedral and was for unaccompanied choir. In setting this, I noticed that there are always two slightly different Latin versions of each Psalm in the Vulgate (unlike other books in the Bible) and they are numbered differently - the Latin is one number earlier. This led me to highlight these differences to divide the trebles into male and female at the point of linguistic divergence. This was Psalm 83 (84 in the English Bible). I subsequently set Psalm 132 (133 in English) for choir, organ and trumpet for the wedding of my friends Brian and Sarah Morton, and then Psalm 126 (127) for choir and double bass to celebrate the birth of their son - my godson - just over a year later.
With Psalm 141 I have set this a cappella, though with some divisi, and in the English translation. I have done this for a number of reasons. Chiefly it is to make the words more immediately intelligible, recognising their poetic beauty, and to make the setting more easily available for liturgical use. I recognise too that my setting is written shortly after the four hundredth anniversary of the St James Bible's publication, in 1611.
© Gavin Bryars
|Scoring||Mixed Choir A Cappella|