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Bay Psalm 121
2016
by Dan Senn
for a cappella
From The Bay Psalm Book
1640
The first book published in North America
SATB Choir - duration ci. 3'30"
Bay Psalm 121 is the fourth work of Four Psalms Modal for a cappella choir and uses a text from the first book published in North America, The Bay Psalm Book, written as a metrical Psalter. Following the Gutenberg Bibles by more than a century, the Book holds a unique place in American cultural and religious history. A group of New England clergy, Richard Mather and others, transcribed biblical psalms into this metered verse. Just 20 years after the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock, in 1620, they printed 1700 copies of the book in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Original editions are extremely rare and highly valued with only ten believed to still exist. Even so, online representation are readily accessible. The Bay Psalm Book followed the first Gutenberg Bibles by more than 150 years and laid the groundwork for texts of the American Revolution such as Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”
1 I to the hills lift up mine eyes,
    from whence shall come mine aid.

2 Mine help doth from Jehovah come,
    which heav'n and earth hath made.

3 He will not let thy foot be moved,
    nor slumber; that thee keeps.

4 Lo he that keepeth Israel,
    he slumbereth not, nor sleeps.

5 The Lord thy keeper is,
    the Lord on thy right hand the shade
6 The sun by day, nor moon by night,
    shall thee by stroke invade.
7 The Lord will keep thee from all ill:
    thy soul he keeps alway,

8 Thy going out, and thy income,
     the Lord keeps now and aye.
Bay Psalm 121 is a modal piece written in the aolian mode and harmonic minor. A piano reduction is included for rehearsals, but the piece should be sung a cappella. It is permissible to perform the work a step higher or lower than written.

Bay Psalm 121 written for and dedicated to my
wife Caroline.
It is the fourth and final work of
Four Psalms Modal
written between 2013-16 including Bay Psalm 23, I Have No Haughty Looks and Make Haste To Deliver Me. With the divisi, eight voices are needed to perform this work.

Press play beneath the lyrics (left) to hear a December 2016 recording by the Kuhn Choir of Prague, Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster. A pdf of the full score available from the composer. Play video of score on YouTube, Sibelius version.
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