Bless the Lord, O My Soul (2000)

For SATB Chorus and Organ   5 minutes

Bless the Lord, O My Soul was commissioned by a group of people whose early lives were dedicated to choral singing. I wanted their Millennium Anthem to be a celebration of song, and Psalm 104 provided a wonderful sequence of expansive imagery. The organ part is quite virtuosic, beginning with a flourishing fanfare suggesting a heavenly vision, which provokes the choir into a wordless cry of wonder; in contrast, their first words are hushed, awe-struck. The organ creates a backdrop of twinkling stars for ‘who coverest thyself with light’ and a calm sea for ‘who layest the beams of his chambers in the waters’. The hushed ‘bless the lord’ returns, but now fast and loud, ushering in the most dramatic imagery: the chariot of clouds, the wings of the wind, and finally the depiction of God’s ministers as a ‘flaming fire’.

Text: Psalm 104

Commissioned by Eton College Old Choristers’ Association

First performance: 10th November 2000, Eton College Chapel Choir, Ralph Allwood.