Friday, September 08, 2006

The Chichester Psalms - Part Two

The second movement begins with the psalm of David set in a conventional meter (4/4) with a tranquil melody, sung by the boy soprano (or countertenor), and repeated by the women's voices in the chorus.

This is abruptly interrupted by the orchestra and the low, rumbling sounds (again word painting) of the men's voices singing psalm 2 (also notably featured in Handel's Messiah). This is gradually overpowered by the women's voices (and then, David) serenely reaffirming the second portion of psalm 23.

However, the last measures of the movement contain notes which recall the interrupting section, symbolizing mankind's unending struggle with conflict and faith.

Interestingly, the boy's theme was adapted from a musical that Bernstein never completed, The Skin of Our Teeth (based on the play by Thornton Wilder). The men's theme was adapted from material that was cut out of West Side Story.

The lyrics, in Anglicized Hebrew:

"David" and Women

Adonai roi, lo ehsar.
Bin'ot deshe yarbitseini,
Al mei m'nuhot y'nahaleini,
Naf'shi y'shovev,
Yan'heini b'ma'aglei tsedek,
L'ma'an sh'mo.


Lamah rag'shu goyim
Ul'umim yeh'gu rik?
Yit'yats'vu malchei erets,
V'roznim nos'du yahad
Al Adonai v'al m'shiho.
N'natkah et mos'roteimo,
Yoshev bashamayim
Yis'hak, Adonai
Yil'ag lamo!


Gam ki eilech
B'gei tsalmavet,
Lo ira ra,
Ki Atah imadi.
Shiv't'cha umishan'techa
Hemah y'nahamuni.


Ta'aroch l'fanai shulchan
Neged tsor'rai
Dishanta vashemen roshi
Cosi r'vayah.
Ach tov vahesed
Yird'funi kol y'mei hayai
V'shav'ti b'veit Adonai
L'orech yamim.

English translation:

David and Women:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,
He leadeth me beside the still waters,
He restoreth my soul,
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness,
For His name's sake.


Why do the nations rage,
And the people imagine a vain thing
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His anointed.
Saying, let us break their bonds asunder,
He that sitteth in the heavens
Shall laugh, and the Lord
Shall have them in derision!


Yea, though I walk
Through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
For Thou art with me.
Thy rod and Thy staff
They comfort me.


Thou preparest a table before me
In the presence of mine enemies,
Thou annointest my head with oil,
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy
Shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

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