American Psalmody II — By the Rivers of Babylon
By the Rivers of Babylon, American Psalmody II, continues to highlight the quality and diversity of the sacred music repertory by American composers of the twentieth century. As in the case of Make His Praise Glorious, American Psalmody I, (GDCD 025), some of our chosen composers are more celebrated than others; and a number are more noted for their secular compositions, in a variety of musical mediums and styles, than for their contributions to music for worship.
Setting aside questions of sacred music aesthetics, our choices in these recordings have been drawn from the art music of Western culture, which can indeed provide a remarkable variety, ranging from common practice of the musical past to more adventurous contemporary styles of composition, as heard here.
In designating American composers, we have adopted the criterion of David Ewen in his splendid book, American Composers: A Biographical Dictionary, (G.P. Putman’s Sons, 1982). As Ewen puts it, “The selection was confined almost primarily to those who are native by birth or citizenship.” That accounts for the appearance of such names as Adler, Loeffler, Schoenberg, and Starer, for example, three of whom may be regarded as refugees from Nazism. Pursuing our (Ewen’s) criterion, one can see clearly that musical composition within our shores has been greatly enriched by these immigrants.