22 Feb 2010

Updates: Sweelinck arrangements

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621) was a Dutch musician who, among other things, arranged the Genevan Psalms for choral singing. Coincidentally, Sweelinck's birth year saw the Genevan Psalter's completion. I have just added a number of his arrangements to the videos page. Two of them follow, the first Psalm 8 and the second Psalm 146.

One more update: bibliography, discography, links and videos are now on separate pages.

16 Feb 2010

Psalm 95 - T'ai Giorkou

There is an intimate connection between folk and liturgical music that often goes unnoticed. Both typically grow out of local communities in which their personal origins are obscured. No one in particular writes folk songs, and, until fairly recently, the same was true of the songs used in corporate worship. Folk and liturgical music is also modal music, that is, it is composed in the several musical modes or in variants thereof. This is in contrast to more recent (i.e., post-Renaissance) western music, which tends to be in major or minor scales only.

Recognizing the relationship between folk and liturgical music, some years ago I paired a versification of Psalm 95 I had written in the 1980s with the tune of an ancient Greek Cypriot folksong, Τ'αη Γιωρκού (T'ai Giorkou), which is an epic poem about St. George and the Dragon. Here it is sung by Greek Cypriot musician Alkinoos Ioannidis:

In the summer of 1993, my sister, Yvonne Koyzis Hook, and I recorded Psalm 95 set to my own arrangement of this beautiful tune at St. Barnabas Church, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Note the asymmetrical rhythm of the piece, which is in 5/4 time. Thus far I have not written down the arrangement, which exists only in this recording. Here is the text:

Come, sing our praises to the LORD,
the Rock of our salvation;
into his presence now let us come
with songs of jubilation.
O let us make a joyful sound,
our happy voices raising;
for God is King above every god
and worthy of our praising.

For in his hands he holds the earth
and all the depths thereunder;
to him belong all the mountain peaks
amid their regal splendour.
His also is the restless sea,
the work of his creation;
his hands have fashioned the continents
and fixed their habitation.

Come, let us chant our Maker’s praise
and bow before the Father;
for he is ours and we too are his,
the flock that he would gather.
If only you would hear his voice,
accepting his correction!
Incline your ear and hear what he says
and he will give direction.

Text copyright © 1986 by David T. Koyzis; recording copyright © 1993 by David Koyzis and Yvonne Koyzis Hook