Monday, May 24, 2021

The Shepherd's Psalm

The most recent addition to my website (www.earlenerentz.com) is entitled The Shepherd's Psalm , an arrangement based on Psalm 23 that combines the Scottish/Gaelic tune Leaving Lismore with the American folk tune in the familiar hymn My Shepherd Will Supply My Need. In the initial Scottish folk song presentation, I have paraphrased the words in Psalm 23. Once the familiar hymn is added, I used the original text by Isaac Watts. Both of these tunes were similar in style, and I love both of them. The inspiration for this arrangement? During this past year and couple of months, I feel that we have been on a long, anxious, arduous journey, and it was not a sprint through the valleys...it was a slow...cumbersome...slog. Now that we are coming out of this dreadful experience, it is easier to feel a slight reprieve such that we can feel the serenity and calm I enjoy associating with this biblical chapter. We hear these words as an effort to comfort hearts of families and friends at memorial services. Thankfully, it really seems to have that effect on our spirits. We somehow find comfort to live and work and keep going, knowing that we are not alone. As this arrangement begins, treble voices are singing in unison, with limited harmony. The men's voices come in later on in the verse, and we move along the journey. After verse one of the Scottish tune, the treble voices again present the American folk tune with the Isaac Watts text (My Shepherd Will Supply My Need). In the second half of the presentation, the first tune joins with the Scottish tune, and all voices join to provide the "traveling material" to the next section. In the last presentation, we rejoin "Lismore," with the melody in the Alto and Bass, while Soprano and Tenor sing in unison and duet, with descant-like countermelody material that enhances the melody. At the end, we emphasize the purpose in this entire arrangement, as related to this period in history. The text is "My soul the Lord restores." These walks through valleys and shadows might be necessary in order to be restored in our souls. It seems to me that "restoration" of our lives has been the yearning for months. When will we get back to our lives as we knew them? We want to restore our way of life, our joy, our purpose, our security, our being. As one final musical illustration of restoration, I used the chord progression at the end to bring the idea to the ear. In the last phrase, we go from chords in D Major to a B-flat Major chord...then the key is once again restored to D Major. The journey is long, but a comforting presence is with us. May our souls be restored in the days ahead.