Psalm 117; coda to 116

Having spent time in Psalm 116 this week, take a moment to consider the little psalm which follows.

Ps 117 (116 in Vulgate) melismatic chant. (Note ‘gentes’ spread across a dozen or so notes)

At two whole verses, Psalm 117 is the shortest poem in the bible. A little further on waits 119, the longest chapter in the Bible at 22 sections of eight verses each.

Two verses may not have been enough to gain entry for 117 into the Lectionary, but short and sweet yet makes an easy grab for a resounding song:

1 Praise God, all you nations! Extol God, all you peoples!
2 For great is the steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of God endures forever.

Thus, paradoxically, 117 has been a great favourite amongst composers. CPDL lists around a hundred settings. These range from little duets through a bunch of SATBs, up to a full 12-part motet that manages to squeeze 17 pages of music out of two verses.

Just search Youtube for “Laudate domunum omnes gentes” to find a plethora of delights, remembering that the opening phrase “Laudate dominum” is shared with several text entries, including this psalm, 146, 148 and 150.

What is your preference? Bach and Byrd, through Tallis and Telemann, to Victoria and Vivaldi? What delights, and these are just the Big Names. I read somewhere that Karl Barth said:

When the angels praise God in Heaven I am sure they play Bach. However, en famille they play Mozart.

So enjoy this beautiful Mozart setting (Laudate Dominum, KV 339) sung by young Slovak operatic soprano Patricia Janečková. Why this particular performance? The chamber orchestra is light and impressive, the setting and the performers are convincing and, like all human faces, beautiful:


For more on the music, go to a post of August 2016.

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