Lord, Today

Time to see if the waters of collaboration and comment on liturgical music are poisoned or something. Try this:

Lord, Today

I wrote this in 1992 and used the text of the common Christmas psalm refrain and the ICEL Psalter’s 98th. We all probably know what happened to that edition, so I went with a personal adaptation of the psalm text. Feel free to take the link to a more amenable forum, if you wish. For courtesy’s sake, just let me know if you do.

I’m not sure I’m using this setting this year. My wife likes it a lot, and my old friends in Kansas City too. But some things just don’t travel well.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to Lord, Today

  1. audrey says:

    Hey Todd,
    I really appreciate that u’re putting your music out there for critique and I do think it’ll help all liturgical composers more if there was more peer feedback & constructive criticism (done in good faith of course), so here’s my 2 cents worth, which I hope is useful. Feel free to take it FWIW, from one musician to another :) [I'm leaving out comments about style since that's very subjective IMHO]

    Firstly, on the whole, I think you bring back motifs well and the piece sounds coherent. The tone of the work is also suited to the joyful character of the psalm. Now on to the details.

    -Psalm refrain-
    I like that the melody is easy and singable by the congregation. I fear the syncopation might put off some, but if the parish is used to such rhythms, I don’t think they’d have a problem singing this. You do not have an introduction written in though, I assume one’s made up when it’s sung?

    Some minor suggestions to the part writing – You have parallel 5ths in mm. 4, the root (A) mm. 6 is tripled, & mm. 8 ends with a low G in the bass – that’s an awfully low note and quite uncharacteristic of the whole piece. Unless its there for a reason (text painting & such), I’d move it up an octave and re-voice the parts. I think closer harmonies all the way through would work better for this – think gospel harmony maybe?

    I’m not particularly fond of the held out whole note (mm. 1, 3, 5) with just movement in the accompaniment. I think that sounds a bit static. Maybe a counter melody in the lower voices as an echo could help add more interest here. In mm. 9, the last note is only 1.5 beats, instead of the usual 1 whole note. Was this intentional?

    In mm. 7, I expected the B & A to lead to a G instead, so its a sequence, but it leaps to a D. I think this might be too much of a surprise considering that you’ve led the listened through 1 sequence (mm. 3 – 6), then prepped them for another (mm. 7 & start of mm. 8).

    -Stanzas-
    I like how the chords punctuate the phrases in the stanzas. They provide a nice contrast to the refrain.

    But I’m not sure using the same melody for all the stanzas is a good idea here as the textual accents of each stanza differ so much. The 8th notes also sometimes feel like they move too quickly for the text, such that the text might get chewed up in the process.
    mm. 15-17, 4 stanza – “creation” and every” has 2 syllables one 1 note.

    -Piano accompaniment-
    The refrain especially has a lot of rhythms that are exactly the same as the voice parts. This means that the rhythms are punctuated a lot, but also that the gaps are the same. Because its for piano, this could mean lots of silences. Since you have chords on top, I’m assuming you’ll expect the pianist to improv rather than play exactly what’s written, in which case would be OK. I’d otherwise suggest more fillers in the accompaniment. Gospel scores do this well and may be a good reference for the style you’re going for I think.

    pax.

    • Todd says:

      Hey, thanks Audrey. Intro would be the whole refrain, as is customary for psalm settings.

      You’ve zeroed in on trouble spots for the part-writing. I probably need to look at that, especially since I’ve never actually had a group sing the parts as written.

      Good thought on the counter melody in the men’s voices.

      Interesting comment on the verses, as the original ’92 version that used the ICEL Psalter did have some variety. My wife doesn’t like my rewrite that much, but she didn’t complain.

      My Kansas City friend Diana is a blues singer, so when she sang this for Christmas Eve, she just made up the verse melody anyway.

      Appreciate the comments, and also I’m going to need to correct a few typos. Happy Christmas.

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