from The Scottish Psalter of 1635
medium or low voice and organ
for John Cheek, bass
i. A Tree By the River Side
Psalm 1 paraphrase by Thomas Sternhold, The Scottish Psalter of
The man is blest that hath not lent to wicked men
nor led his life as sinners do,
nor sat in the
But in the law of God the Lord doth set his
and in the same doth exercise both day and night
He shall be like a tree that grows fast by the river side,
bringeth pleasant fruit in due time and tide,
whose leaf shall
never fade nor fall,
but flourish still and stand.
things shall prosper well that this man takes in hand.
be like a tree that grows fast by the river side,
like a tree.
The way of godly men unto the Lord is known:
whereas the ways of
wicked men shall be quite overthrown.
He shall be like a tree
that grows fast by the river side.
The man is blest.
ii. Like as the Hart
Psalm 42 paraphrase by John
Hopkins, The Scottish Psalter of 1635
My soul, why art
thou sad always,
and frettest thus in my breast!
in God, for him to praise I hold it ever best.
Like as the hart
doth pant and pray,
the wellsprings to obtain;
so doth my soul
with thee, Lord, to remain.
My soul doth thirst,
and would draw near
the living God of might;
Oh, when shall I
come and appear
in presence of his sight.
Alas, what grief is
it to think
the freedom once I had!
Therefore my soul, as at
most heavy is and sad.
For I did march in good
in joyful company,
unto the temple was our way
praise the Lord most high.
By him I succor have at need
against all pain and grief;
he is my God who with all speed
doth haste to send relief.
Like as the hart doth pant and bray,
the wellsprings to obtain;
so doth my soul desire alway,
thee, Lord, to remain.
Give Laud unto the Lord
paraphrase by John Pullain, The Scottish Psalter of 1635
All kings both more and less
with all their pompous train;
princes and judges that in the world remain,
Exalt his Name:
Young men and maidens,
old men and babes, do ye the same.
The old-fashioned majesty of these texts is perhaps
at odds with today's English-speaking world's enthusiasm for gender
inclusiveness in liturgy, but, in discussion with John, we agreed
that this verbal majesty is worth continuing alongside the more
modern linguistic trends and theological expressions.
The following excerpt is from the second of the three
psalm settings, "Like As the Hart." It begins with a through
composed recitative expressing the darker sentiment of verse six,
and yields to the positive message of the opening verses for the
body of this aria, first conceived of for bass.
The other two psalm settings are also lyrical and
John Cheek sang a wonderful Marke in
Tristan und Isolde at the Florentine Opera in 2004, and was a
supportive colleague throughout the rehearsals and performances.
Over dinner we shared good food and better drink, many intriguing
ideas, and thoughtful reflections.
He suggested solo settings of some psalm texts for
him to sing in his Episcopal church in Massachusetts. Because his
voice has such lyric capabilities as well as dramatic power, I opted
to create lyrical settings all the while imagining his voice in my
ears. This was easy to "hear," for we were close enough for me to
study his fine technique. Our shared rehearsals and performances had
me on my knees before him as he sang König Marke's second act