O God, Look Upon Our Grief

Another piece of liturgical music for comment:

O God, Look Upon Our Grief

I’m generally not in favor of rewriting old pieces to fit new words. I wanted to work a bit with the new Revised Grail Psalter. So here is a revised musical setting of Psalm 25 that was designed with the Order of Christian Funerals in mind.

The original antiphon in the OCF was given as “Look on my grief and my sorrow; forgive all my sins.” As I recall from twenty years ago, I declined to use that as given. Perhaps mourners reflect on their sinfulness in the face of a loved one’s death, but I considered that grief, not contrition, is the more usual emotion working for the Christian community. I also intended to use the first person plural in the refrain to reflect a literal prayer on the part of the community, but also to reinforce the sense of companionship.

As for the choice of verses, this piece took its first text from the 1963 Grail in the Funeral Psalter (see OCF 347). I chose selected verses from the psalm and I felt that was a sound decision. I knew the original text is one of those alphabetic psalms, where each line begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Unlike hymns or laments or other psalm categories, there’s not necessarily a clean line of thought from one verse to the next. So I felt more free to cherrypick sentiments a mourning community might express.

Verse one is taken from 25:1-2a, then 5ab. Verse two uses 6-7a, then d to wrap up the thought without a repetition. Verse three uses the complete “stanza” of 17-18.

This piece has never been used liturgically. I wrote it after an OCF workshop I did in northern Illinois, then shelved it. It’s possible my wife has never heard it. I’m not sure this is near the cream of my compositions. There’s a lot of funny stuff in verse 2, and navigating the seven-flat modality may take a bit of thought.

Anyway, have at it.

By the way, GIA has given me generous permission to reprint settings of the Revised Grail Psalter (RGP) as long as I don’t extract a profit from it, either from direct sales or from site advertising.

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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.
This entry was posted in Order of Christian Funerals, Todd's music. Bookmark the permalink.

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