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Psalm Settings

For this fall, I am planning a program of Psalm settings. I would be grateful for suggestions of contemporary works of a rhythmic nature; looking for SATB (little if any divisi), medium difficulty, 3:30 - 5:00 minutes in length. Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Monte Garrett
Replies (26): Threaded | Chronological
on June 12, 2014 8:39pm
Alleluia, Laudate Dominum,” the third movement from Stravinsky’sSymphony of Psalms” will probably fit the bill very well.  It’s a little over-long but it’s the entire 150th Psalm, the parts are very rhythmic, the ranges are very comfortable, it can be done with a piano (I suggest 4 hands), it was written for popular appeal, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s very classy.  Consider it for the climax of your program; you’ll be glad you did!
Hope that helps.
Michael A. Gray
on June 13, 2014 2:49am
K’Ayal Ta’arog (Psalm 42)  by Nick Page SATB. Piano, Percussion.  Boosey & Hawkes
Very rhythmic along the lines of my Niska Banja arrangement.  In Hebrew & English.  I wrote it for a High School festival where I had thirty minutes to teach it (without them seeing it ahead of time).  It delivers a punch while requiring little rehearsal (and the singers loved it).  "As the deer longs for the stream, so my soul longs for Thee, O God."
on June 13, 2014 4:15am
Dear Monte,
My "O Sing Unto The Lord" is a setting of psalm 98, quite rhythmic, with no divisi in the SATB parts. It's accompanied by organ, and lasts 4 minutes - should suit you perfectly!
and you can preview the score at - email me at chris(a) if you'd like to see the full score before ordering.
Single copies are £2.50 ($4) (20 pages) plus postage: a PDF to let you print as many copies as you want is £30 ($55). I'd recommend the latter option, it'll wok out much cheaper for you!
It's been performed by choirs in Scotland, England, and Binghamton, NY.
Hope this is of interest to you.
Chris Hutchings
on June 13, 2014 4:17am
Abbie Betinis - Psalm 126:  A Song of Ascents - Augsburg ED004973
Hugo Distler - Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied. Motet  [Psalm 98] - Barenreiter BA 751
Applauded by an audience of 2
on June 13, 2014 4:48am
Check out this video of my setting of Psalm 117 on YouTube.
on June 13, 2014 7:19am
Don't know if Benjamin Britten is 'contemporary' any more ... but his "Jubilate Deo" in C is exquisite.  Elizabeth Poston just died a few years ago ... an American who spent her entire career in England and succeeded.  She has a spectacular setting called "Antiphon and Laudate Dominum"  I think it was published by Novello.  I got permission to make copies for my choir.  Extraordinary.  Anthony Piccolo's setting of "O Come Let Us Sing Unto the Lord" is fine, too.  Vaughan Williams, "O Clap Your Hands" is superb, and uses brass if you wish.  It's defiinitely rhythmic.  Jacque Berthier's piece "Laudate Dominum" written for the Taize Community is rhythmic and great fun.  You need a good 'cantor' to sing the verses while the choir continues to sing the chant (which acts as an Antiphon)  It's very flexible and can be done with organ or various instruments.  GIA publishes the Taize community music.  There are other Psalms that might work from that tradition also. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 13, 2014 7:25am
Hello Monte
Ernani Aguiar's energetic, rhythmic setting of Psalm 150 is shorter than three and a half minutes, but then again, 'rhythmic' settings are likely to be shorter than the norm. A great closing work, or encore. It is available for SSA, SATB & TTBB (Earthsongs).


on June 13, 2014 12:04pm
Hi Monte,
You might consider my piece Sing to the Lord, a setting of Psalm 96 that would be a great fit for your program (SATB, highly rhythmic, 3 minutes). Recording and perusal score are here: Sing to the Lord.
on June 13, 2014 12:04pm
Three for your consideration:
Arvo Pärt: Cantate Domino (SATB, org), Universal. In Latin
Benjie-Ellen Schiller: Psalm 150 (3 part equal or mixed, gui or kbd., hand drum) Transcontinental/Hal Leonard. In Hebrew.
Charles Davidson: Psalm 150 (SATB, org or pno 1/4) Transcontinental/Hal Leonard. In English.
I have a number of Psalm settings in Hebrew; alas, none are rhythmic/uptempo!
Hope this helps,
Robert A.M. Ross
on June 13, 2014 1:39pm
Consider Emma Lou Diemer's "Come Let us sing to the Lord"
Good luck.
Rick Bartlett
on June 13, 2014 3:43pm
Hello Monte,
I am a huge fan of John Ness Beck's setting of Psalm 67. After a richly harmonic slow opening it makes a vivacious launch into the second half of the Psalm (and remains lively through the remainder of the piece). Beck was an wonderful composer of church anthems, but his fantastic sacred concert music seems to be somewhat forgotten these days (such as Psalm 67, Song of Exaltation, and others).
Also, I have a setting of Psalm 23 which has been very well received. I would be happy to email you a perusal score. If would like to purchase my setting, I charge $1.50 per copy made from pdf.
To see the score please email me at
God Bless,
Michael Sandvik
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 13, 2014 8:27pm
Mark Hayes' setting of Psalm 150 is excellent. Great example of word painting "clashing of the cymbals" is bombastic, "strings and pipe" is legato, "praise God with the dance" is syncopated and light, wonderful, wonderful piece. The accompaniment requires a very capable pianist though.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 14, 2014 6:26am
ECS Publishing has an entire series devoted to Psalm settings with newer translations.
Feel free to contact ECS or our distributor for more information.
Stanley M. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Chief Editor
ECS Publishing Corporation
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 14, 2014 8:15am
One of my favorites is:
    Cantate Sing to the Lord - Noel Goemanne (pub Mark Foster)
          hear it at
I've also had good success with:
    Song of Praise - Knut Nystedt
    Sing Unto God - Paul Fetler
The opening movement to Bernstein's Chichester Psalms is also great fun.  It would be a bit of a challenge but, I think, worth the effort.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 14, 2014 10:35am
Well, since no one else has mentioned him I will--many of John Rutter's psalm settings are rhythmic and lively. "O Clap Your Hands" (if RVW, as mentioned above, doesn't fit the bill) and "O Be Joyful" are cheif among them and in his early stlye--challenging rhythmically for the average amateur but accessible and easy on the ear. "Cantate Domino" is a later work, double chorus, a cappella, more advanced (dissonance) but very tonal, of course. You can peruse many of them in his performance compilation "Psalmfest" (OUP) and sample recordings  
For something different, a little lighter, but still classic choral writting with a jazz-like influence, lively and rhythmic, Heinz Werner Zimmerman Psalmkonzert and his other psalm settings would be something to dig out of the archives.  (I remember singing with him in '76 at the Oregon Bach Festival and he was commissioned to set Psalm 150 for the bicentineal but I don't know that it ever got published.  OBF at U of Oprobably have copies still if you want to go down that rabbit hole.)
Have fun!
Applauded by an audience of 2
on June 14, 2014 10:49am
Monte -- So much to choose from; what choral composer hasn't set psalms?  Fitting your criteria:
Rene Clausen's excellent "All That Hath Life and Breath Praise Ye the Lord" draws from two psalms.  SATB a cappella with some divisi.
Samuel Adler's Psalm 113 from his SATB a cappella trilogy is rhythmic, well written, relatively recent (1997).  Text is "Hallelujah, praise the name of the Lord..."
In addition:  
My Sing A New Song To The Lord  (Psalm 96) has more than a little divisi but is something you might consider.  Details at this page on my website.
Similarly Aromimcha Adonai Ki Dilitani (Psalm 30) has rhythmic sections along with sustained ones, but is longer at 6:30.  Details at this page on my website.  
Ives is not contemporary now but was ahead of his time, so you could consider his Psalm 54 or Sixty-Seventh Psalm.  
Likewise, Virgil Thomson's Psalm 136 from the 1920's sounds fresh today.  
If you are considering accompanied, look at the 3rd of Anthony Iannaconne's Chataqua Psalms, "Not Unto Us, O Lord," for mixed chorus and piano.  From 1987, they sound contemporary and this one is definitely rhythmic. 
With organ, Carson Cooman's "Psalm 66  (Be Joyful in God)" is another great candidate.
Also with organ, my This Is The Day  (Psalm 118) has appealed to performers and hearers in many places.  It's rhythmic at the beginning and end, with a sustained middle section.  Details at this page on my website.  
All the best, 
Christopher J. Hoh
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 14, 2014 8:28pm
Good evening, Monte:
I highly recommend a fellow Canadian composer, Barrie Cabena. His setting of Psalm 104 called "The Spirit of the Lord" which my choir just sang last week for Pentecost. Needs a good organist. If memory serves, only a split once in a while for sopranos (and it's the same split every time). Very rhythmic and exciting. Also, a lot of repetition, which makes it easier to learn. Lots of ST/AB singing together too, which makes it easier to learn also.  Lots of canonic passages , again easy to learn, once you've got the notes. Published by ECS Publishing.
Bob Grandy - Minister of Music
Trinity United Church,
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 15, 2014 5:45am
Here's one of mine, that has had quite a bit of popularity. SSATB though. Not too difficult. There's cymbals but they can be omitted. 
Message me if you're interested :)
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 15, 2014 4:53pm
David Gordon's "Sing A New Song" which sets Psalm 98 alongside a Maori-language setting of the Magnificat, the psalm in a comparatively conventional Western style, the Magnificat in the style of a Karanga
The original is SSA, but he was considering reworking it for SATB at one point when I spoke to him, and may have done so by now (or may do so if you ask him)
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 16, 2014 8:26am
We have about 125 Psalm settings in our Compline library. We only do Compline with four different Compline Choirs; none are SATB. So, I have composed/arranged/transcribed/transposed about 1600 works for Compline on my trusty Sib6. This includes Psalm settings.
We don't do any other services, except Holy Thursday (Maundy) when we hang the crepe. The groups are:
An all women's SSAT choir called Voces angelorum.
Two AATB's; one choir all men, another quartet including one female alto, called, Illumininare,
and an all male ATBarB quartet called Reniassance Man. The problem is they are mostly chant style. This means no meter, rhythm, nor bar lines. I'm not sure this is going to help you.
If you send me your email address, I can send you my latest chant version of Psalm 103 for ATBarB, which will give you a glimpse into the middle ages with a melenium newer ear. jefe4x4(a)
Your querrie has prompted me to start organizing a Psalmist Marathon. The plan is to put together the complete Psalter, in order from 1 to 150 in one more or less continuous l assault in a great local space. This would include chanted solo Psalms, duets, trios, quartets of course and the main thing would be to have a lot of variety with occasional intermissions. I wonder how long that would take?
Applauded by an audience of 2
on June 20, 2014 8:35pm
Love the marathon idea!  "Psalms for All Seasons:  A Complete Psalter for Worship" (settings of all 150 Psalms) might interest you.
on June 16, 2014 8:46am
I have a setting of "Clap Your Hands!" (Psalm 47), published by Hinshaw Music, that I think fits your requirements.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 17, 2014 3:23am
Hi Monte - I have a couple of psalm settings for SATB (Psalms 121, 118 & 25). You can have a listen and view the scores at: 
Regards - Dorian Kelly
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 19, 2014 12:32pm
Dear Monte,
Please check out my composition, May the Words of My Mouth, which sets Psalm 19:14 (15) in Hebrew and English. In 2011, this piece won the National Lutheran Choir's 25th Anniversary Choral Composition Competition. Now the work is published by ECS Publishing.
Thanks for checking out my music.
Joshua Fishbein
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 29, 2014 8:56pm

Psalm 13 (SATB) composed by Jack Curtis Dubowsky.

For SATB choir. Choral. Sacred; contemporary. Octavo. Composed 2002. 12 pages. Duration 4:05.

Published by De Stijl Music (D1.SM-02-0001).

Sacred text. Harmonically rich and complex.

on July 1, 2014 8:52pm
Heinz  Werner Zimmermann did a number of Psalms of various levels of difficulty. They are in a Jazz idiom (with walking bass line and dissonant chords in the accompaniment).  The choral parts vary from two part (Psalm 23) to more complex.  The rhjyms can be quite challenging but finding a recording of some of them would help a choir learn the feel and get it in their ears.  He also wrote a series of three psalms called Psalm Konzert. Concordia published a number of them in English translation (from the German). A slower piece but beautiful, not too difficult with some gentle dissonances is Gerald Near's "My Song Shall Be Always of the Loving Kindness of the Lord";  published by Morningstar.  
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