Benedicam Dominum (SSATB)


SSATB a cappella
Also available for TTBB
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Text: Psalms 34:1-3


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Composer's Note

Composer's Note

My setting of this psalm text began as a class assignment when I was an undergraduate student. We were tasked to write a Medieval chant-like melody, and this is more or less what I came up with on a short, two-staff assignment handout.

Years later, I encountered the handout in a file of old papers, sang through the melody, and thought it might be promising as a longer piece. I adapted a few notes here and there so that it would work in a two-voice canon, which I use heavily as the piece develops.

It's rather a simple piece to perform, as it turns out. Once the parts that sing the melody are secure with their notes, the rest of the piece is getting the rhythm and energy of the "alleluias" under control. I imagine most choirs will find this piece easier to put together than expected. Smaller choirs can manage the piece, even if there is only one person per part. When I've performed it with such an ensemble, I had the organist improvise a quasi-droned accompaniment from m. 18 onward.

I've heard that some choirs have made adaptations to the parts, such as asking a few tenors to sing the alto 2 part when it splits, or alternatively having a few altos sing the tenor part, if an ensemble is short on tenors. If there are not enough basses, omitting some of the doubled notes in the bass towards the end might work as well. However, the open fifths of the altos are a very important sonority throughout, and none of their notes should be eliminated.

Text (Psalms 34:1-3)

Latin Text
Benedicam Dominum in omni tempore; semper laus ejus ore meo.
Audiant mansueti, et laetentur.
Magnificate Dominum mecum, et exaltemus nomen ejus in idipsum.

I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
Magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

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