There are various traditions of Psalm-singing: Metrical, Responsorial, etc. My church generally feels most comfortable with the metrical Psalms that are part of our Reformed heritage. However, there are merits to each approach, so I try to include as many song styles as possible in our psalmody.
Last week the lectionary called for Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45, a Psalm which opens with praise, then follows with the story of God providing manna, quails, and water in the wilderness. Existing settings are slim, seldom mentioning Meribah and Massah, which are an essential connecting point to the Old Testament reading. I decided that the world needed a new responsorial setting of the Psalm.*
Responsorial singing, you’ll remember, is when a leader sings/chants verses and the congregation responds with a refrain. The key to a good responsorial setting is to have a quickly learnable, highly memorable refrain for the congregation, and a chant tone for the choir that has a logical, flowing harmonic progression. In this case, I decided to include a light rhythmic piano accompaniment, which is pretty unusual in this style. (Out of the box: it’s where you’ll find me.) I’ll spare you the gory details of Joseph Gelineau, the Grail Psalter, and sprung rhythm, and simply let you listen to a recording from the service or take a peek at the music.
*The need is deep, so you may not yet have felt your need of my new Psalm 105 setting. It will come.