Psalm 147, 3 Jan 16

Band in ParisThe last half-dozen songs in the psalter are songs of praise and joy. Each one begins with a Hallelujah or call of praise to God.

This one is longer than most. We start at verse 12, although to my mind the selection is best read in the context of the whole psalm. It rings as a little nationalistic, even exclusive, without the earlier rejoicing that the remnants of an exiled people have been saved and gathered, the holy city rebuilt (verse 2). As with most of this poetry the associated meanderings, in this case celebrating the creation’s being sustained and ordered by divine love and power, help to broaden the focus to a more inclusive perspective.


We have previously sung the refrain from The emergent psalter on a couple of occasions, using a local SATB arrangement of both antiphon and tone rather than Everett‘s version of unison refrain and spoken verse. However, the reading then was the first half of the psalm, from which Everett uses verse 4 as an appropriate refrain:

Jehovah with immeasurable wisdom calls each star by name

This refrain is a little stranded when reading the second half of the psalm, but it could still be effective.

PFAS rolls out several responsive options, frequently just picking the ‘hallelujah’ theme. One (147A alt.) is even a familiar tune by Mozart. Mozart’s music is supposed to soothe the troubled breast: this is a canon in three parts, so it will keep the congregation awake and alert as they learn and enjoy their woven harmony.Tomas-Luis-Victoria-300x300


Lauda Jerusalem by Victoria (1548-1611) still lurks in my files awaiting the moment when we can do justice to this nice setting.

Much early psalm music was composed using alternate verses, either odds or evens, for antiphonal singing with cantor and choir. All of Victoria’s eleven vespers psalms follow this pattern, the one cited below being odd verses. Victoria also arranged several psalms for two choirs.LaudaJerusalemExperienced Canberra singers interested in singing Victoria’s magnificent Officium defunctorum for six voices should think about joining the Oriana Chorale workshop on 28 May 2015.


No sung psalm at South Woden this week during holidays.

Thanks to the excellent music resource, This site has even been updated to include many .pdfs formatted for your singers’ tablet or phone! Music may also be accessed via cpdl.

Image of TL Victoria;

More on the Officium defunctorum for the funeral of the Dowager Empress Maria of Spain here>

3 thoughts on “Psalm 147, 3 Jan 16

  1. Having read the psalm first we then found we resonated with your opening comments. Keith Rowe has a finely nuanced reflection in With Love to the World concluding with “The writer has not yet had his consciousness expanded to accept that divine love surrounds every person and every people.”

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