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Psalm 42: As Pants the Deer

Composer Alfred V. Fedak
Text Ruth Duck, based on Psalm 42 and 43
SATB and organ
Topics Hope, Praise
Church Season Easter Vigil
4' 10" Price $2.00 (U.S.) Released 2/00
Catalog no. 410-854 Difficulty Mod. easy

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"This is a haunting little piece. The text is a paraphrase of Psalm 42, with interesting interpolations that expand and intensify the message of the verses chosen; in addition, the author has added a refrain to each verse. A Dorian melody is the musical foundation of each verse and refrain, and the composer has created contrast by varying the voicing and harmonization of these verses, and introducing variety into the organ interludes between the verses.
This is not difficult music; the organ part is rather spare, and the text is set homophonically with much unison and two- and three-part harmonizations for the choir. Ranges are somewhat limited, and the rhythms align with the textual accentuation, thanks to some rarely used time signatures. The result is a beautiful, simple anthem that is highly recommended to church choirs of varying abilities." --Choral Journal, February 2001

"I commend Fedak for musically attending to dual aspects of this Psalm--the first characterized by thirsting and lamenting, the other by anticipation that the orant will soon be able to lift up the mighty praise due a faithful God and Savior (hence the thundering conclusion). With each successive stanza, brooking gives way to hopeful urgency. The modal tune resembles ERCHIENEN IST DER HERRLICH TAG. The text is a metrical paraphrase by Ruth Duck. Recommended for Lent or the Easter Vigil. Medium difficulty. Recommended." --Cross Accent, Fall 2001

"Fedak's Psalm 42: As pants the deer falls into the category of original hymn anthems which evoke the folk tradition. His new tune rings changes on the Tallis THE THIRD TUNE ('I heard the voice of Jesus say') in the best possible ways. Two minor points need to be noted, however. There is apparently a missing 'S.A., unison' instruction in measure 13, and the big ending (Exuberantly...Quasi toccata) will not suit everyone." --AAM Journal, January 2001

Shifting meters and a colorful (yet supportive) organ accompaniment add interest to this setting of Ruth Duck's paraphrase of Psalm 42. Much of the choral writing is in unison and two-parts, and the work ends in a dramatic toccata for organ and voices.

As pants the deer for living streams,
in dry or desert space,
I thirst for you, O living God;
I long to see your face!
Oh, how I miss the happy days
when with the throng I'd praise!
Take courage now, my trembling heart,
for God will take your part!

Tears are my bread both night and day;
fools crush me, soul and bone.
They laugh and ask, "Where is your God?"
I hope in you alone.
Why cast me off? Where have you gone?
Why is your grace withdrawn?
Take courage now, my trembling heart,
for God will take your part!

Deep calls to deep, the billows roar;
they cover me with pain.
I cry for healing and for home;
God, show your love again!
Without your people, who am I?
Without you, I will die.
Take courage now, my trembling heart,
for God will take your part!

O send your light to guide me home;
my Savior, guide me still.
With shouting pilgrims I will come
to climb your holy hill.
Then with the harp I'll sing your praise;
my happy voice I'll raise.
Take courage now, my trembling heart,
for God will take your part!

-Ruth Duck, 1985, para. of Psalm 42 and 43
© 1992 GIA Publications., Chicago, Ill. 60638 (for permission to reprint this text contact GIA at All rights reserved.
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