In an earlier recording, Music of the Americas (1492-1992), Gloriae Dei Cantores performed Psalm 8 from the Ainsworth Psalter (1612), brought to America by the Pilgrims in 1620, as well as American Revolutionary composer William Billings’s highspirited paraphrase of Psalm 148, An Anthem for Thanksgiving. In the same collection we offered psalm settings by Arthur Foote (23), Charles Ives (135), and Leo Sowerby (122). From Billings’s irresistible paraphrases to Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, American Psalmody, or perhaps more precisely, psalm composition, has provided a treasure-trove of great and astonishingly varied choral music by many of our most significant composers.
Make His Praise Glorious is the first volume in a series designed to highlight the quality and diversity of this sacred music repertory in the twentieth century. As one authority (Willi Apel) reminded us, The Book of Psalms “has been, no doubt, the single most important source of text in music history.” The 150 Psalms, we must believe, were conceived not only as poems, but as songs with instrumental accompaniment. The eight composers represented here, each one distinct in style and musical thought, have clearly understood that “in the beginning was the Word.”