Easter is always a big day for church music, and this year was no exception. What was an exception was the difficulty level of the piece I wrote for the day’s Psalm. I actually wrote this setting of Psalm 118 a few years ago, but this time around I got a good recording of it.
Psalm 118 is a sprawling, rhapsodic Psalm of emotional valleys and mountains. I wanted the composition to reflect that, but I also wanted to make it accessible to the congregation. What I came up with is a short, tuneful refrain that the congregation sings repeatedly throughout the piece. The choir, on the other hand, is given a number of episodes, each mirroring the feelings of the different parts of the Psalm. Put Laura de Jong on soprano, support her with strings, and throw in a timpani–and you’re in business!