Prayer for Sanctuary - a setting of psalm 23

Complexity Level: high

Parts: SATB with divisi in most parts. Optional very low bass at the end.

Genre: sacred - psalm 23

Deets: Dmajor, but it moves around a bit, 4/4 and 3/4, through composed

I'm not a person of faith - I came to these words as a respectful visitor, and I spent a long time thinking about their meaning. It felt like a prayer for a place of sanctuary - a place for restoration. I thought it was also personal  - The Lord is MY shepherd, so I initially wrote most of the work as a solo and then grew the song around that. The verse about preparing food and anointing felt different to the rest of the text. These are actions, whereas the rest of the text calls for stillness. So I gave this verse to the menfolk - I thought they would like the activity and agency in these words. The more I thought about a God of comfort and sanctuary, the more I thought of the feminine. Although I stayed with the original text in the piece - as part of composing this piece, I rewrote the text for The Mother, and maybe one day I will set these alternative words.

At dawn the last of her night stars steer my path - through the trees I see the way.

When the day is hotter, I rest in her green grass, I drink from her river. I am restored.

Like a Teacher she holds me high in her expectation. Like a Mother she holds me close when I am hurt.

Her words ring with ancient wisdom.

I have heard death’s low drumming, but she has seen the edges of this vast universe and is fearless.

She nurtures my body with food, fortifying me. I rest my head against her shoulder, and surrender to her comfort.

She will bring sanctuary for my weary soul.

Every day. Every day. Of my life.


For now, I have a MIDI recording, but in time I will record some singers.