Herbert Fromm’s Psalm Cantata is really three separate pieces published together under a single title. In this recording only the first movement “Anthem of Praise,” is heard. Based on Psalms 148 and 29, it is scored for trumpet, soprano or tenor solo, and organ, It was written in 1960 and dedicated to George Faxon, the organist at Trinity Church in Boston. The work was premiered there at an interdenominational service.
A trumpet call leads to the opening words "Halleluya praise ye the Lord," which are set canonically—soprano and tenor in octaves and alto and bass in octaves. This kind of doubling was always favored by Fromm, especially at the time in his career when his music tended toward a rather sparse and austere sound. There is nothing which one would call 'romantic' in this setting, but rather a careful linear recitation of the text throughout. That is, until the second part. At the words "Ascribe unto the Lord glory and strength" there is a noticeable change to a more melodic rendering of the words, while the solo part is a melody with a one line bass accompaniment leading back to the feeling and the actual music of the beginning in variation. The trumpet call leads the chorus to a climactic end on the word 'Glory' with a final "Halleluyah" ending the piece in triumph.
There are two other movements (not recorded here). The second movement is based on Psalms 130 and 131 scored for soprano, viola and organ, while the third movement is based on Psalms 47 and 30, and is scored for solo, chorus, flute, trumpet, timpani, and organ. The final movement was written for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Temple Israel in Brookline, Massachusetts where Herbert Fromm was music director for over 40 years.
Sung in English
I. Anthem of Praise (Texts from Psalms 148, 29)
Halleluya, praise ye the Lord,
from the heavens, praise Him,
praise ye Him, all His angels,
praise ye Him, sun and moon,
praise Him, all ye stars of light,
praise Him ye heavens,
and ye waters that are above the heavens,
let them praise the name of the Lord.
For He commanded, and they were created.
He also hath established them for ever and ever;
He hath made a decree which shall not be transgressed.
Ascribe to the Lord, ye sons of might,
glory and strength ascribe unto the Lord;
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters,
the God of glory thundereth,
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty,
the voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars,
yea, the Lord breaketh in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He strippeth the forests bare,
And in His temple all say: Glory!
Performers: Samuel Adler, Conductor; Rochester Singers
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