Monday, July 4, 2011

Psalm 127

Here's the latest installment of our Genevan Psalms at Riverview this summer. Actually it's not the latest installment, as we've used two others since my last "Psalms" post. But it's the latest one that I've had an influence on, anyway.

For this Psalm, the idea was to have a men's group sing it. Kerry Glewwe and I worked on some syncopation and parts that deviated a bit from the original, mostly just to jazz the arrangement up and give it some life. Kerry came up with most of the parts. Then we included Eric Moteberg in the mix, and this is how it came out.

Psalm 127 by fatsjoel

We toyed around with a bunch of different ways of singing the psalm: a round, phrase extensions, modulations, etc., but in the end, time constraints forced us to keep it relatively simple. We ended up taking turns with the melody on the first verse, breaking it up into parts for verses 2 and 3, and then going back to the first verse again in unison, but also raising the melody up a step. I'm beginning to get an appreciation for the language of the psalms (ever tried to sing the word "quiver"? It ain't easy!). As is usually the case with live recordings, I thought it sounded better when we sang it than the recording makes it sound, but oh well.

The lyrics are below, and you can compare our arrangement to the original here.

UPDATE: You can also see a video of the rendition here.

Unless the Lord will build the house
It's builders toil in useless pain
The city's keepers watch in vain
Unless the Lord, it's cause espouse
No enterprise shall have success
Unless the Lord decides to bless

'Tis vain to waken in the dark
To start one's daily enterprise
And slave till night to realize
One's sustenance by endless work
For God, his gifts on us, will heap
To his beloved he gives sleep

Lo, sons are precious gifts from him
The body's fruit is his reward
The sons of youth like arrows guard
The man whose quiver's full of them
He shall be mighty in the gate
No foes shall enter his estate

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