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Schütz: I Praise You, Lord

Composer Heinrich Schütz, arr. Alice Parker
Text Psalm 30, para. Jaroslav J. Vajda
Voicing
SATB
Topics Praise and Adoration
Scripture
Psalm 30
Length
1' 55" Price $1.80 (U.S.) Released 5/06
Catalog no. 410-857 Difficulty Moderately easy

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Review
"The prolific and seemingly indefatigable Alice Parker has turned to the music of Heinrich Schütz for a set of three new arrangements based on the Psalms. The Becker Psalter, a compositional project that occupied Schütz at two different stages of his long life, and whose value Parker places on the level of Bach's chorales, was her musical inspiration. Psalm paraphrases by Jaroslav J. Vajda, Jean Wiebe Janzen, and Henry S. Drinker (of Psalms 30, 84, and 117, respectively) proveded the texts. Parker describers her own role as being that of 'compiler and editor.' For me, her textual choices serve the music better in the first and third pieces of this set than in the middle one. Vajda's and Drinker's poems follow the often tight rhyme schemes that inspired Schütz's music, and both text and music profit from the result. . . the Ps. 30 and 117 settings are both quite serviceable." --AAM Journal, May/June 2007

Description
First of a series of three anthems entitled "Psalms for Barbara," adapting the music of Heinrich Schütz from his Becker Psalter.

Introduction
These three settings bring together a remarkably large number of participants. Their source is the Becker Psalter of Heinrich Schütz, composed and compiled in the years leading up to 1627, revised and enlarged as opus 14, and published in 1661. The texts were German verse paraphrases of the entire 150 Psalms by the Leipzig theologian Cornelius Becker. Schütz composed 103 new melodies for these brief hymns, and set all of them in delightfully varied harmonizations based on modal scales. He had made several settings for the choirboys in his training, but developed the whole volume only after the death of his wife in 1625.

If we begin with the antecedents of these poems, the anonymous early singers who gave us the Hebrew Psalms, and follow their handing down through countless translations in different tongues to the present, we come to the three translators here represented. Jaroslav Vajda, a Lutheran of Slavic descent, living in St. Louis, Missouri, has written many memorable hymn texts. Jean Janzen, of Russian Mennonite descent, lives in Fresno, California, and has many published secular and sacred poems. Henry S. Drinker was a physician and music-lover who lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the first part of the 20th century; he translated all the Bach and Schütz choral works in his busy life.

My work here has been principally as compiler and editor. The Psalms are presented substantially as Schütz wrote them (exactly in the case of "How Lovely Is Your Dwelling"), with some added repetitions and very careful enhancements of the voicing to suit the occasion. The editorial markings are all mine.

I have long believed that the music of the Becker Psalter belongs in the library of every devotee of sacred music, alongside the chorales of J.S. Bach. They have so much to teach us of complexity within simplicity, of sinuous subtlety in rhythm, melody, and harmony, and of expressive text-setting. Composers, choirs, and organists adept in this music will be better musicians, as well as having a wider vision of the possibilities of the hymns used in our daily worship.

All these people are gathered together in these three anthems in the name of a woman who lived life to the fullest, reminding us of music and poetry’s endless power to console and delight us even in loss.
--Alice Parker

Anthem text
I praise you, Lord, in ev'ry hour
With all my pow'r,
Since you have heard my crying;
Your arm has vanquish'd all my foes
With all their woes,
Their victory denying.
Dear God, I plead from my deep need,
And to my cries
Your mercy flies;
Your grace relieves my sighing.

Praise God, all you who call him Lord,
He keeps his word,
Remember how he saved you.
His anger lasts a moment brief,
Soon comes relief;
You know that he forgave you.
Your holy God withdraws his rod,
You go to bed,
Your eyes still red,
But waken free and joyful.

Lord, you are patient, I am weak,
Until I seek,
And then I find you waiting.
You build my confidence and strength,
And I, at length,
See all my fears abating.
How should I not praise you, my God?
Your life I see
Begun in me,
New joy and hope creating.

--Psalm 30, para. Jaroslav J. Vajda
Text © 1984 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. Used by permission. You must contact Concordia for permission to reprint this text.

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