Psalm 81: Exultate Deo


Duration: 6 minutes

SATB 8-part chorus

First performed by Bristol University Singers, cond. Steven Kings, 26 November 2008, Victoria Rooms, Bristol

Listen to Psalm 81 by Alan Charlton performed on multitracked cellos:

Programme Note

This is a through-composed setting of Psalm 81 (Exultate Deo), for double choir. The text has proved particularly popular with composers across the ages because of its musical references: ‘sing we merrily’, ‘make a cheerful noise’, ‘take the psalm, bring hither the tabret: the merry harp with the lute’ and ‘blow up the trumpet’, for example. Additionally, it includes some evocative imagery that lends itself to musical depiction such as ‘as the storm fell’, ‘the waters of strife’ and ‘strange god’. As well as attempting to illustrate these phrases musically, I sought to exploit antiphonal effects between the two choirs. The work was given its first performance in November 2008 by the Bristol University Singers, as part of an 80th birthday concert for my teacher, Professor Raymond Warren.