How Long Wilt Thou Forget Me, O Lord

for chorus (2008)


Duration: 6'

Chorus:  SATTB

Availability: For sale


Program Notes

Psalm 13 (KJV)

In writing my large choral collection, Cantiones sacrae, I was interested in a number of dualities: Latin and English, Mary and Jehovah, male and female and their relationships to imploring, praying, and most importantly, suffering and tears. The Marian antiphon, Salve Regina, and the motet, How Long Wilt Thou Forget Me, O Lord, a setting of the Psalm 13, are companion pieces that adequately represent these dualities and tensions: while both are scored for five voices, the Salve Regina asks for another female voice, the Psalm for another male voice; the Salve Regina addresses Mary and is in Latin, the Psalm, Jehovah and is in English. 

Both the Salve Regina and How Long Wilt Thou Forget Me, O Lord are the most straight-forward and traditional settings in the cycle and, like late 16th century Italian polyphony, maintain a strong sense of line while being formally fragmented. 

How Long Wilt Thou Forget Me, O Lord is a setting of Psalm 13, a particularly pessimistic and anguished prayer for deliverance.  I have set the work in two parts: the first and most substantial plays off of the word, “long” only to finish the remaining verses comparatively quickly and syllabically. The second part sets the remaining three verses and the doxology, added with a bit of dark irony: the remaining verses of the psalm are set to smooth chant-like unison lines that become troubled on the word “sing” and evoke the opening words of the first part. The doxology follows suit with chant interspersed with melismatic elaborations of the words: Father, Son, Holy Ghost. The “long”-motive is evoked one final time on the last words of “world without end. Amen.”