The Lord Is My Shepherd - (2008)
for baritone and harp (or piano)
for baritone Edwin Crossley-Mercer
Psalm 23 in the King James Version (1611)
1 [A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of
righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before
me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days
of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
[ 5 pages, circa 4' 45" ]
While discussing various students and colleagues which my wife, Marilyn, has
worked, she spoke highly of a young professional whom she had met, and whom
she had coached during his time at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule and in some
productions at the Staatsoper in Berlin. I suggested I would compose
something for this fine young baritone, and when they spoke he suggested the
Twenty-Third Psalm. We settled quickly on the refined English of the
original King James version of 1611.
By repeating some text, I formed the verses into a standard song form,
A-A'-B-and A'', the vocal line rising highest at the mention of that most
human experience, facing death. Therefore the remainder of a gently shaped
vocal line remains in the mid-voice range. A repeated, quasi-minimalist
pattern repeats in the right hand while the left changes harmonic
underpinning in a harmonic rhythm equal to the length of each measure. It is
therefore a most simple setting of this beloved text. The score shows no
dynamics, which are left to the performers, wholly dependent on in what
venue this might be performed. A more resonant acoustic such as a church as
opposed to a recital venue might require changes which performers are best
able to judge.
As the "bridge" section of this setting rises to the highest tessitura of
the voice, a subtext is suggested for the singer in which one's own
relationship and awareness of this "valley of the shadow of death" is shown
is recommended. There is drama in these words, as one sees in the many uses
of this favorite psalm in funeral settings.
Born in 1982, Edwin Crossley-Mercer first studied the clarinet and singing
at the same time as his German studies. In 2000 he entered the Versailles
Centre de Musique Baroque, going on to further study in nineteenth-century
repertoire. He has studied interpretation with Julia Varady as well as
participating in master classes of Thomas Quasthoff, Wolfram Rieger, Ruben
Lifschitz, Udo Reinemann et Dietrich Fischer- Dieskau. In 2006 he debuted at
the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Der Freischütz. He has performed in
Roméo et Juliette, Eugene Onegin, Persée, Die
Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, Ariadne auf Naxos, Der
Freischütz, Die lustige Witwe, and well as in concert works such
as the St. John Passion. Crossley-Mercer has recorded Charpentier
motets and Lully ariasand recently completed concerts in Hong Kong and
China, and sings his first Gugliemo in Aix-en-Provence 2008. Festivals at
which he has appeared include the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and
The score for The Lord Is My Shepherd is available as a free PDF
download (in either Europe's A4 format or the US standard of 8½ x 11),
though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is
prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic
below for this piano-vocal score.
The Lord Is My Shepherd
The Lord Is My Shepherd
8½ x 11