Psalm 116: The Land of the Living

My FAWM challenge continues. I’m writing a piece based on the Hallel Psalms (113-118). Nine days in and I’ve got four of the six Psalms done, with sketches for the fifth. Once that foundation is laid, I can begin writing Hallelujahs and interludes.

Psalm 116 is a study in the contrast between death and life. The Psalmist had just about slipped into the pit of death when God restored him to the land of the living. And what better way to portray the depths to which the Psalmist had sunk than an accompaniment of basses?

I took quite a loose approach to the lyrics on this one. As a matter of fact, my goal isn’t to be literal or complete on any of these Hallel settings. There are plenty of metrical settings out there for people who want to sing something that sticks close to the Psalm text. I’m writing these more as musical reflections, meditations or a distillations of the spirit of the text. Is it working?


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