Psalm 23, 25 April 21

What more can be said about this favourite psalm that promises quiet waters and an overflowing cup? Many composers have been drawn to its lyrical beauty. CPDL lists around 70 early and classical compositions in various languages, but more recent popular settings are just as numerous. The list below is a small selection of composers you might recognise:

Murrumbidgee River at Pine Island; not always quiet waters.
  • 1958: Duke Ellington
  • 1966: The Moody Blues
  • 1966: Ed Ames
  • 1977: Pink Floyd
  • 1978: Patti Smith
  • 1980: The Grateful Dead
  • 1985: Judy Collins
  • 1988: U2
  • 1990: Bobby McFerrin
  • 1993: Midnight Oil
  • 1995: Tupac Shakur

Psalms for All Seasons lists no less that eleven options. Together in Song offers the old favourite tune CRIMMOND at No 10. In years gone by we have sampled songs by composers like Ricardo Villareal to Paul Kelly’s Meet me in the middle of the air.

Isaac Everett inThe Emergent Psalter recommends hearing the beauty of the text in the original Hebrew. The following Youtube version provides an excellent opportunity:

מִזְמור לְדָוִד ה׳ רֹעִי לֹא אֶחְסָר — Adonai ro’i lo echsar (pronounced ah-doh-noi roh-ee loh ekh-sar)

Amongst the others, the first example in the list above is by Duke Ellington. Part VI in his Suite is a setting of Psalm 23 sung by the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.

But for pure delight in the human voice, listen to the next serving of no-frills musical gold, a setting by Bobby McFerrin of ‘don’t worry, be happy’ fame:

At Woden Valley.

In recent times we have enjoyed the Spanish song El señor es mi pastor, presented by a male voice quartet, and also the simple but effective song by Paul Kelly, Come and meet me in the middle of the air.

This time it’s CRIMMOND. Its pleasant familiarity may be enlivened a little by starting in the key of Eb, a tone lower than the setting in F, then modulating up to F after a couple of verses. This may challenge accompanying instruments before the change.

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