Jean Berger (1909-2002): The eyes of all wait upon thee
Performance: Nederlands Kamerkoor (Netherlands Chamber Choir) - Peter Dijkstra
Concert recording: Parmando 24Culture
15. The eyes of all wait upon Thee;
and Thou givest them their meat in due season.
16. Thou openest Thine hand,
and satisfiest the desire of every living thing,
of every living thing.
15. De ogen van allen zien uit naar jou,
je geeft hun voedsel als het etenstijd is,
16. je opent je hand
en alles wat leeft krijgt genoeg.
The Netherlands Chamber Choir (Nederlands Kamerkoor) will be streaming 150 Psalms, set to music by 150 composers, over the course of 150 days. The Psalms’ themes, based on texts from thousands of years ago, are nowadays as relevant as they were when they were written. The Psalms sing about hope and sorrow, about leaders in trying times and about powerlessness and the joy of life. The Psalms form a mirror of our society. The Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Tallis Scholars, the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street are sharing these performances with the world, hoping it will fill the silence, and bring a moment of hope in the world. We are immensely looking forward to meeting our audiences again in real life. The performances were recorded by Parmando 24Culture.
Gerard Swüste: ‘The laments almost all follow the same pattern: lament – prayer – expression of trust. The clearest example of this pattern is found in Psalm 13. People pour out their tale of woe about suffering injustice and about everything that has befallen them. These are the cries of powerless people. In the Psalms illness, need and pain are not seen as a punishment from God. These are just things that happen to people.’
Despite all the trust in the unchangeable changeability of life and in the power and justice of the good leaders, man experiences a great deal of despair and suffering. He feels abandoned (Mein Gott, warum hast Du mich verlassen? – Mendelssohn) or he is afraid of being abandoned (Herr, auf Dich traue ich – Nicolai). This programme brings four psalm traditions together: 1) According to the Church of Rome, with polyphonic settings by Adriaen Willaert, Cipriano de Rore and Constanzo Porta; 2) According to Calvin’s teaching, with Philibert Jambe de Fer and Claudin de Sermisy; 3) According to Luther, with Felix Mendelssohn, Otto Nicolai and Albert Becker; 4) According to the Anglican church, with Hubert Parry.
Constantijn Huygens’ psalm settings occupy a special place in the genre. He was, after all, calvinist, but used Latin in his psalms; furthermore, his setting of Psalm 35 is not for choir, but is a reflective aria with organ accompaniment which, according to him – contrary to the traditional calvinists – could remedy the mediocre and often out of tune singing in the church. Finally, Jean Berger is an American composer of German-Jewish descent who has written many choral works, including Psalms. Musicological concept and programme note: Leo Samama (2017)
Note: this programme note was taken from the programme booklet for the original project in 2017. The performance order of the Psalms was different to the way we will be streaming the Psalms online. Nonetheless these notes may provide you with additional background information on the musicological concept and the Psalm themes.
150 Psalms was initiated by the Netherlands Chamber Choir and its artistic and general manager Tido Visser in 2017. During the Early Music Festival in Utrecht (NL), the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Tallis Scholars, the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street performed a ‘monumental ode to 1,000 years choral music’. In 12 concerts spread over 2 days, they performed musical settings of all 150 Psalms by 150 different composers. The Psalms, arranged into 12 different themes by theologian Gerard Swüste, are a combination of both older and newer compositions. This marathon-concert tour premiered during the Early Music Festival Utrecht (NL) in 2017, followed by performances in New York (2017), Brussels (2018) and Adelaide (2020).