Update: Sheet music for this song is now available at gregscheer.com.
Like many Februarys, this month I will be taking part in FAWM: February Album Writing Month. This year I will be meeting the challenge of writing 14 songs in 28 days with the help of 14 lyricists who will contribute renderings of 14 Psalms, inching me ever closer to my goal of writing a song on each Psalm.
This first collaboration is with Linda Bonney Olin, who has contributed a beautiful setting of Psalm 8. One would think that the Psalm 8 well had long ago run dry, but Linda has written a text that is full of child-like wonder, bringing a new sense of awe to our hearing of the Psalm.
I have supported this ethereal text with music that floats, seemingly untethered from a tonal center. Though the song’s key is (more or less) D major, the very first downbeat is a G chord with an A in the melody. From there this nebulous shifting of harmonies continues into a (more or less) C region before a sudden change of course leads us back to D major. Interestingly, when the song lands back in D it sounds strangely unresolved.
1. How often in the deep of night
have I in silence gazed
at twinklings on the edge of sight
and stood, O Lord, amazed!
Beyond the slice of universe
that mortal eyes can see,
creation vast and so diverse
shines forth in majesty.
2. So high are you, O Lord, our God,
above all humankind!
Our finite minds are overawed
by marvels you designed.
Yet you have given humans charge
of what your hands have made.
To tend your creatures small and large,
this trust on us you laid.
3. You wield supreme authority,
yet you are kind and fair.
We too, Lord, in humility,
must act with gracious care.
We honor you when we respect
all beings’ sacred worth
and, as your stewards, we protect
the glories of your earth.