It is only fitting that this setting of Psalm 117, being the shortest of all the psalms, is just over 3 minutes in duration. The opening words, “Laudate Dominum” are stated decisively and cleanly in order to ensure they are not lost in the choral texture. This phrase is then repeated to emphasise the all-important invitation to join in praise. The allargando approach to the central section broadens the music out to more polyphonic material in the dominant. The stretched, reiterated phrases are sung at almost full throttle to produce a highly expressive and emphatic declaration of the promise of mercy to the gentiles. The longer phrases need considerable air and will be sung on the end of snatched breaths, giving added urgency. The music gradually descends through the use of sighing, falling lines and the intensity is surrendered. The episode comes to a rest as the text describes God’s enduring truth. The return of the opening material introduces the Doxology Minor with “Gloria Patri”. The piece closes with a resounding crescendo over a melismatic “Amen”.
The Text: Psalmus 116 (Biblia Sacra Vulgata)
Laudate Dominum omnes gentes:
Laudate eum omnes populi;
Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia eius:
et veritas Domini manet in æternum.
Gloria Patri et Filio
et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio,
et nunc, et semper.
Et in sæcula sæculorum.
Translation: Psalm 116 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)
O Praise the Lord.
O praise the Lord, all ye nations:
praise him, all ye people.
For his mercy is confirmed upon us:
and the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning,
and now, and always,
and in a century of centuries.
(Matthew 28:19; Hebrews 13:8; Romans 16:27; Jude 25; and “in sæcula sæculorum” (‘in a century of centuries’) taken from Greek: “εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων”.