Psalm 8

Soprano Solo, SATB chorus, organ–7′

A prize-winning setting of an exuberant Psalm. For adventurous choirs.

Listen to the Alice Millar Chapel Choir perform Psalm 8 at GriggFest, honoring Grigg Fountain, 1986:

SKU: No. 4143 (ECS) Categories: , , Tags: , , , ,


Psalm 8

Soprano Solo, SATB chorus, organ
7′ duration
Winner, 1986 Möller-A.G.O. Award in Choral Composition
Premiere—1986, by the Alice Millar Chapel Choir, Evanston, IL.
Published by ECS. Distributed by Canticle.

Program Note

Composed in 1986 for the Millar Chapel Choir, a marvelous ensemble at Northwestern University in which I had sung as a student, Psalm 8 is dedicated to James Edward Avery, former Northwestern University Chaplain, and Grigg Fountain, long-time organist and Choirmaster of the Alice Millar Chapel, who retired in 1986.

Psalm 8 closely follows the text of the King James Version and falls into a three-part form with coda. The text comprises many moods, from an exultant beginning, through questioning, affirmation and praise. Accordingly, the clear opening key-center of C becomes considerably obscured before returning at the close. The words, “When I consider thy heavens,. what is man, that thou art mindful of him?” contain what I feel is the essence of the poem, given to a solo soprano accompanied by murmuring, controlled aleatoric choral patterns. Throughout, the work contains strong tonal and modal references, but it also incorporates some freedoms in notation and execution.

Psalm 8 was awarded the 1986 Möller-American Guild of Organists Award in Choral Composition. The virtuosic organ part was a response to that competition’s requirement for an anthem “in which the organ plays an important role.”

psalm 8 cover

The E.C. Schirmer edition of Psalm VIII received a Paul Revere Award from the Music Publishers Association for graphic design.


O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength
because of thine enemies,
that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
and hast crowned him with glory and honor.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands;
thou hast put all things under his feet:

All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea,
and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!



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