Psalm 139

Genre: Choral

Mood: Religious

Forces: Female voice, Male voice, SATB

Length: 5 Minutes


Psalm 139 (2007) – Setting from Tanakh, Koran and King James Bible. SATB, with soprano and baritone solos, 4’.

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Psalm 139
To the Chief Musician
For Sister Claire Edith de la Croix

1. Adonai hakatani vatedah
2. ahtah yedahta shivtee vekoomee, bantah leruh-ee mayrahokh
3. orhee verivree zereeta, vekhol derakhai hiskantah
4. kee en milah bilshonee, en Adonai yadahtah khoo-lah
5. a-horr vakaydem sarrtahnee, eevatahshet alai ka-pay-hrah
6. pelee-ah dah-aht mim-men-nee, neesgebah loh-oo-khal-lah

[7] Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
[8] If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
[9] If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
[10] Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
[11] If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
[12] Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

58:7 Ahlam tarah ahn* Al-lah-ha yah-yuh-lamoo mah fee samah-wahtee wama fee lah-oo,
ma yakoonoo meen* nahjeewa thalah-tha-teen il-lah hoo-wah rahbee-oo-hoom walah hom-sateen il-lah hoowah sah-deesoohoom, walah adernah meen* tha-leeka walah ak-thara il-la huwa mah-oohoom ah-hee-nah mah kahnoo, oom ma yoonah-bee-oohoom* beemah ahmeeloo yah-ooma lookay-yahmah, inn* Al-lah-ha beekoolee shah-ee-een aleem.

th = soft th as in them, not as in thanks
* sing with a short vowel and a long hummed consonant – meennn not meeen.

[13] For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
[14] I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
[15] My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16. gol-mee rah-oo enaykh ah, vay-al seeprekha koo-lahm yee-katayboo, yameem yoot-saroo vaylo ekhad bahem
17. velee mah yahkairoo re-aykha el, may ahtsimoo rrahshayhem
18. esperem maykhol yeerr-boon, hekeetsotee vay-o-dee em-mak
[19-22 removed]
23. hokraynee el vaydah levabee, bayhahnaynee vaydah sarr-a-pai.
24. oorr-ay im dayrekh ot-say vee, oona-haynee bedayrekh olahm

kh=Scots ch like loch rr = Scots rolled r
leruh-ee like French fauteuil ai as in pie
hr (ka-pay-hrah) = a very soft h or mid r (like Portuguese rodar or Spanish jamon)

The transliteration above is the composer's own, and so are any errors. But he acknowledges gratefully all those who generously helped me with pronunciation and transliteration – especially Sister Claire Edith to whom this work is dedicated. The juxtaposition of words from the holy books of the three great monotheistic religions is intended to celebrate their commonalities - a musical equivalent of the paintings of Chagall where Christ, Ibrahim and the rabbi share a canvas.

F L Dunkin Wedd
Tonbridge, 2007.


First performance:
29 Sep 2007, Tudeley Choir, Sandra Graham, Philip French, Tudeley, Kent.