Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Twenty-Third Psalm

If you are an organist or choir director of a liturgical church, you'll no doubt know by now that the psalm appointed for Sunday is the infamous Psalm 23 "The Lord is my shepherd", for which there are numerous musical settings.

I thought I'd share an email I received today, which originated as an e-newsletter article written by Sonya Sutton, Director of Music, St. Alban's Episcopal church, Washington DC.
How many musical settings of the Twenty-Third Psalm are there? Impossible to know, of course. In our hymnal alone there are four settings (Hymns 645, 646, 663 and 664). Choral anthems and solo settings may well run into the hundreds. Herbert Howells, John Rutter, Leonard Bernstein…Bobby McFerrin… Duke Ellington (on his 1958 album Black, Brown and Beige)…the theme song for the television program The Vicar of Dibley…a parody version, Sheep, by Pink Floyd…the list could go on and on, and become stranger and stranger.

Come again? Pink Floyd? Did she say Pink Floyd?

Here's Psalm 23 ... as you've never seen or heard it before:

"Sheep" by Pink Floyd (excerpt)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
He makes me down to lie
Through pastures green he leadeth me the silent waters by
With bright knives he releaseth my soul
He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places
He converteth me to lamb cutlets
For lo, he hath great power and great hunger
When cometh the day we lowly ones
Through quiet reflection and great dedication
Master the art of karate
Lo, we shall rise up
And then we'll make the bugger's eyes water.
For the record - this Sunday we are singing Psalm 23 to an Anglican Chant by H. Walford Davies, plus an Anthem based on Brother James' Air, and my Postlude also a "Meditation on Brother James' Air" by Harold Darke. It doesn't get much more Anglican than that.

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