Premiered January 31, 2021 by Brenda Portman for the Organ Concert Series at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio
I. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” (Psalm 13)
II. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91)
III. “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song.” (Psalm 98)
This organ sonata takes its inspiration from the Psalms of the Old Testament, with three movements based on contrasting psalms. The piece has some harmonic influence from Persichetti, as well as rhythmic influence from wind ensemble composers such as David Holsinger.
In Psalm 13, the psalmist is frustrated, impatiently waiting for God to bring deliverance from enemies, but in the final two verses, he expresses his trust in God. The first movement is in sonata-allegro form, with the two themes representing the dichotomy between frustration and trust. The opening theme is agitated and restless, using mixed meters, and the hands jump around a bit in register. The second theme is slower-moving, sturdy, and conveys a sense of security.
Psalm 91 is a psalm of rest, safe dwelling, protection, and peace. Consequently, the second movement has a serene quality, alternating between lush 8’ strings and a solo stop accompanied by an 8’ flute.
Psalm 98 exhorts all of creation to praise God. The third movement is played with the full organ and returns to the use of mixed meters in order to convey a joyful, exuberant dance.