21 Nov 2011

Hollywood takes on the Genevan psalms

In 1952 Miklós Rózsa, one of Hollywood's great film composers, borrowed the Genevan Psalter's tune for Psalms 36 and 68 in scoring Plymouth Adventure, the story of the Pilgrims' migration to North America in 1620.

Here is the text sung by the chorus:

Confess Jehovah thankfully,
For He is good, for His mercie
Continueth for ever.
To God of gods confess doo ye,
Because His bountiful-mercee
Continueth for ever.
Unto the Lord of lords confesse
Because His merciful kindnes
Continueth for ever.
To Him that dooth Himself onely,
Things wondrous great, for His Mercy
Continueth for ever.

The film's creators obviously did their homework, for this text comes from Henry Ainsworth's Psalter of 1612, which the Pilgrims brought with them from the Netherlands. This versification is of Psalm 136, which Ainsworth's Psalter assigns to this tune. I've not seen this film myself, but a friend told me that it aired last evening on television.

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