5th Sunday of Easter (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Bring to the Lord a glad new song (Perry/Parry)
Gloria from Beneath the Tree of Life (Marty Haugen)
Psalm Ps 144 (Martin Hall)
Gospel Acclamation Easter Alleluia (chant)
Preparation of the Gifts A new commandment
Sanctus, Acclamation D, Amen Spring Sanctus (mcb)
Agnus Dei Lamb of God II (mcb)
Communion I am the vine (John L. Bell) & Ps 80 (Laurence BĂ©venot)
Postcommunion This is the Day (anon, c. 1600)
Recessional Christ triumphant

It’s ironic that (at least as far as I’m aware) there aren’t very many good congregation-friendly settings of the text of today’s entrance antiphon from Psalm 97: Sing to the Lord a new song.

A couple of years ago I took the instruction literally, and we sang Darlene Zschech’s Shout to the Lord, which we hadn’t done before. I don’t think we could get away with that every time, though, and this year, as last, we sang Michael Perry’s excellent reworking of Parry’s Jerusalem. Are there any other settings of this text you’d recommend?

I’d never heard of Osbert Parsley until I saw his name as a suggested composer of the more usually anonymous 16th century anthem This is the Day. I’m still not convinced it isn’t a prank.

5 comments:

  1. 'Bring to the Lord' is described as based on Psalms 149 & 150.

    A question - is the point of a paraphrase so that those singing recognise the originating (psalm) text or express the ideas (and tone) of the text?

    'Joy to the world' is described as based on Psalm 97 (98). There is Haas/Haugen 'All the ends of the earth'.

    There is also 'Sing to God new songs of worship' by Michael Baughen. A long time ago in Brentwood Cathedral this was sung in response to Reading 3 at the Easter Vigil (an idea taken from Westminster at the time). I wrote the paraphrase of Exodus 15 in Resurrexit 'Sing to God a song of triumph' as a pastiche of this.

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  2. Quite right - there's more than one psalm with the words "sing a new song". (I make it Ps 33, 96, 98 144 and 149, not to mention Isaiah 42:10). All the more surprising, then, that there are so few good musical settings! Thanks for the suggestions.

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  3. Interesting question, anyway. The answer, I guess, is either or a bit of both. Ideas and tone in Praise my soul, the King of heaven, originating text in The Lord's my shepherd, and a bit of both in O God, you search me and you know me?

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  4. "This is the day", whether by Parsley or Anon, has been ill served by editors ever since Maurice Bevan first transcribed it years ago. Instead of barring it as two minims to a bar, as every edition has done since then, try rebarring the whole thing with three minims to a bar and see what a difference this makes to the "feel" of the piece.

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  5. Three in a bar for the first half ("This is the day") and then two for the second ("we will rejoice"). I think that's how I beat it, anyway, and how the entries come.

    With a piece as intricate and fast moving as this, the choir tends to lock into a particular tempo, and there's a danger of singing the whole thing on auto-pilot. In rehearsals I tried doing it at several different speeds - from slow and stately to absurd breakneck, just to interest the singers in the idea that the piece was alive rather than ossified. It was fun in rehearsal, though in the actual performance it did gather momentum a bit. (Now I know what it means when lorry drivers are instructed to try your brakes before going down a steep hill. :-)) But we finished together, and (best of all) with smiles on our faces.

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