Note on You assure my place at the table

From the Composer

The hardest part in writing a large composition like the Psalter, where independent texts are collected into a larger work—apart from finding a title (!)—is figuring out which text should start and which text should end the work. I felt that both spots should feature positive texts. I noticed that several spoke of the importance of creation—the natural world. As I worked on the psalms that spoke to me, texts disqualified themselves, as the instrumental material just didn’t seem right for beginning or end of the larger work. The starting work, “O God of all Creation,” came along midway through the process. The ending was harder. As Peter and I picked off texts, emailing to each other “I’m going to work on this one,” it became clear that “You assure my place” was right, both because it was available (a little pragmatism is handy for a composer) and because the organization of the psalm into short verses gave me flexibility.

example 1: You assure my place intro

The up-tempo jazz feel seemed appropriate, both in response to Peter’s contemporary stylings on the pieces he composed, and because I felt the ending needed to be high-energy. The first verse serves as the chorus, most often sung by the choir, returning after almost every verse (sung by either or both soloists). The musical material is organized into 5-measure phrases, with the first four sung, and the fifth being a sort of instrumental tag (although that description breaks down a little in the middle of the piece, the five-measure unit remains constant). Maybe there’s an homage to Dave Brubeck?

example 2: You assure refrain

The statement of faith in “You assure my place at the table forever” just seemed to be the right way to end.

example 3: You assure ending

-Robert Train Adams


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