25 Apr 2022

Let God Arise: Christ is Risen!

In the Orthodox Agape Vespers for Pascha (Easter), the people sing this joyous hymn, whose text can be found here. It borrows from Psalms 68 (LXX 67) and 118 (LXX 117) and ends with the traditional paschal hymn, Christ is Risen. The recording is from St. Symeon Orthodox Church, Birmingham, Alabama, USA, in 2018.

22 Apr 2022

David's Psalter: Psalm 23

Once again, metrical psalmody meets the Polish Renaissance in this wonderful performance of Mikołaj Gomółka and Jan Kochanowski's rendition of Psalm 23. Katarzyna Wiwer sings soprano, accompanied on the lute by Henryk Kasperczak.

20 Apr 2022

Darkness is my only friend: Psalm 88

No question that Psalm 88 is the darkest of all the Psalms, so many of which are already psalms of lament. But while most such psalms end on a note of hope in God, Psalm 88 ends with this bleak complaint: "Darkness is my only friend." Here is Josh Rodriguez's chilling musical rendition of this Psalm:

17 Apr 2022

15 Apr 2022

Allegri's Miserere: not what he wrote

On this Good Friday, as we meditate on Christ's sacrifice for our sins, it is worth looking at this familiar choral setting of Psalm 51 (50 by LXX and Vulgate numbering): Gregorio Allegri's Miserere. It seems that what we are accustomed to hearing in this piece is not what Allegri actually wrote in the early 17th century. My daughter alerted me to this fascinating account, by Rory McCleery and Ben Byram-Wigfield, of the piece's development and elaboration over the centuries. Among other things, the story of Pope Urban VIII threatening to excommunicate anyone who performed it outside the Sistine Chapel lacks any basis in available evidence. Moreover, the high notes sung by the soprano are due to an error in transcription made as recently as the 1880s. They were not in the composer's original.

As I watched this, I thought of the game of telephone that we played as children. It's amazing that an iconic piece of music could become so in a version foreign to its composer's intentions.

4 Apr 2022

Meeter Center lecture

The H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies has now posted an announcement of my forthcoming lecture: Meeter Center 40th Anniversary - Lecture: The Genevan Psalms And Their Significance. It will take place at 15:30 UTC-4, wednesday, 18 May 2022, at the Meeter Center Lecture Hall at Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. From the website: "Join us for this special lecture featuring Dr. David Koyzis (Global Scholars Canada), who has recently completed a new versification of all 150 Genevan Psalms." I hope to see many of you at this event.