Promise (2015) for Wind Ensemble [7:00]
I. I Cried Out
II. I Will Remember
~ A speech transcription of Psalm 77
~ Fourth in the Psalm Series
~ 11 X 17 score and set of 34 parts
To the man to whom I will one day promise my life and my love:
Whenever you feel as if God’s promise has failed, may you remember His miracles.
And know that whenever I remember His miracles, I will think of you.
What is a speech transcription? A speech transcription is a musical composition that brings poetry to life without words. Although it is instrumental, the melodies are not simply an abstract representation of the text, but a literal transcription of the pitches and rhythms of a piece of poetry as it would be spoken aloud. To that end, a variety of irregular and mixed meters is often necessary.
Program Notes: Promise is a speech transcription of Psalm 77 (NIV 1984). One of the major themes in this psalm is remembering. However, the psalmist’s initial recollection of “the former days, the years of long ago” (v. 5) causes him to despair at the present troubles in his life. Thus, the first movement, entitled I Cried Out, mirrors the bitterness and frustration expressed in the psalm, all the while peppered with a remembrance motive in the form of a changing tone figure. Movement II, I Will Remember, begins in verse 10 of the psalm, where a drastic change in mood and character is brought about by one very important word: “Then.” Here the psalmist’s focus shifts from himself and his troubles to “the God who performs miracles” (v. 14), and the movement takes on a dance-like, celebratory quality. The remembrance motive continues to appear throughout the piece as the transformation from bitterness to contentment to joy takes place. A dynamic description of God’s power closes the piece as the psalmist reflects with gratitude on what God has done for him. The two movements are played consecutively with no pause in between.