Psalm 30 is appointed for the Lectionary for the Third Sunday of Easter, cycle C. Yesterday’s psalm, in fact. It also appears after the prescribed Isaiah 54 reading in the Easter Vigil. Twice in fifteen days.
Our parish repertoire includes Paul Inwood’s setting, “I Will Praise You, Lord.” But I’ve been looking for something different for the past year, knowing Easter Vigil needed a change, and that one of Easter’s Sundays, too, was soon to follow. My main problem with the setting my parish has used is that the refrain is just too long for a piece of music we sing at most twice a year. Psalm 30 isn’t a common psalm for any of the seasons, either. I suppose if I wanted to prepare our core parishioners, I would program it as a Communion song during Lent. (That’s my helpful hint for any new psalmody for the Vigil: use it during Lent, even in place of one of the “sandwich” songs.)
To make the Inwood setting work, I’ve found I need to slow the verses down significantly. I think the refrain sings a well at a good pace. Paul uses the ’63 Grail translation, and the psalmist has a lot of words to spit out. Last year’s cantor fussed a bit about the small differences in the verses. We needed something different, and I had a brainstorm the week after Ash Wednesday.
I turned to By Flowing Waters, and used Paul Ford’s adaptation there, number 135. The musicians and psalmists are usually willing to try anything I put in front of them. My Vigil choir director and her son, a fine cantor and ISU student, were game for the Vigil. But I was asked about accompaniment. “Nope,” I said. “This psalm is from the Roman musical collections. There is no accompaniment edition.” I suggested if they wanted to work something up, I was fine with that. It had kind of a Spanish flavor–at least that’s what my tongue suggested when I sang it through early last month. Guitar and voice–that would be enough. So for the Vigil, that’s what they did.
For my Sunday musicians, I had to score an accompaniment. Not all of our cantors are at home with a cappella chant. There was also a hint of fuss about the layout in the published book. Ah, I thought; these folks aren’t used to texts pointed and highlighted.
One cantor asked if she could bail–a busy week at work–and sing something familiar. Otherwise the other three did okay. I was up for accompanying the 10:30 choir, so I used my guitar to assist cantor and congregation. The people in the pews did quite well with it; I was pleased. Few probably realized it was plainsong at all.
If any readers care to comment on the thread below, let us know:
– your favorite settings of Psalm 30
– your favorite BFW settings, if you’re familiar with the collection.