Sacred Songs is a two movement work based on sacred
hebrew/aramaic texts. The first movement is based on the final
line from the Kaddish prayer, the traditional prayer which
sanctifies the name of God. The second movement is based on
Psalm 96, "Sing a New Song to the Lord". The complete
text of the first movement is "He who creates peace in his
celestial heights, may he create peace for us and for all
Israel." In this setting, the voice repeats this texts a number
of times, almost as a member of the overall musical fabric. At
each repetition, the musical phrases are reordered. Also, on
each repeat, the surrounding music in the instruments is
reassigned from one instrument to another. Thus, while the music
changes sonority, it remains essentially the same. The goal was
to create a sense of stasis, of an oscillating, peaceful nature.
The second movement is strophic, meaning that the initial chorus
is repeated throughout the movement. The music is both folk-like
and dance-like, although giving way at certain moments to
reverential awe. In this movement the vocal part comes clearly
to the fore, and leads the musical activity. The instrumental
music is of a generally bravura nature, emphasizing the
ebullient quality of the text.
Sacred Songs was commissioned by the D'Addario Foundation
for Benjamin Verdery, guitar. The first performance took place
June 15, 1989, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, as part of the
2nd American Guitar Congress. The performers were Benjamin
Verdery/ guitar, Rie Schmidt/ flute, Carmen Pelton/ soprano, and
Christopher Finckel/ cello.
Below are the complete texts.
Sacred Songs: Texts/Psalm 96
1) Osa sha'lom bem'ro'mov, hoo ya'a'sa sha'lom a'la'nu v'al kol
yesrael (v'em'roo amen).
He who creates peace in his celestial heights, may he create
peace for us and for all Israel (and say, Amen).
2) She'roo la'do'nai sher cha'dash, she'roo la'do'nai kol
ha'a'retz. She'roo la'do'nai bar'choo sh'mo, bas'roo me'yom
l'yom ye'shoo'a'te. Sap'roo va'goy'em k'vodo, b'chol ha'a'mem
nef'l'otav. Ke ga'dol a'do'nai oom'who'lal m'od, y'no'ra who al
kol e'lo'hem. Ke kol e'lo'hay ha'a'mem e'le'lem, v'a'do'nai
sha'may'em asa. Hod v'hadar l'fanav, oz v'tef'eret b'mek'da'sho.
Ha'voo la'do'nai mesh'p'chot a'mem, ha'voo l'adonai k'vod v'oz.
Ha'voo la'do'nai k'vod sh'mo, sa'oo men'cha oo'vo'oo
l'chatz'ro'tav. Hesh'ta'cha'voo l'adonai b'hadrat kodesh; cheloo
mepanav kol ha'aretz. Emroo vagoyem adonai malach, af tekon
tavel bal temot; yaden amem b'ma'sha'rem. Yes'me'choo
ha'sha'ma'yem v'tagal ha'aretz; yer'am ha'yam oom'lo'o. Ya'a'loz
sa'di v'chol a'sher bo; az y'ran'noo kol a'tza ya'ar. Lef'na
a'do'nai ke'va lesh'pot ha'a'retz; yesh'pot ta'vel ba'tze'dek,
Sing a new song to the Lord; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; announce his salvation from
day to day. Recount his glory among the nations, his
wonders--among the peoples. For great is the Lord and highly to
be praised; he is to be revered above all gods. For all the gods
of the peoples are idols; but the Lord made the heavens.
Grandeur and majesty are before him; glory and beauty are in his
sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of peoples, ascribe
to the Lord glory and majesty. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due
to his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship
the Lord in holy array; tremble before him, all the earth. Say
among the nations; "The Lord is King!" The world is so
established that it cannot be shaken; he rules the peoples
justly. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad, let the
sea and all its fulness roar praise. Let the field exult and all
that is therein; let all the trees of the forest sing before the
Lord who comes, who comes to rule the earth. He will rule the
world with righteousness, and the peoples--with his