Chanted Word

A Rosenburg Psalter, Other Songs

This is a project I created in the Spring of 2011.  The texts are from David Rosenburg’s book, A Literary Bible. David Rosenburg is a former editor-in-chief of the Jewish Publication Society and a poet. He’s also the author of the well-known Book of J, which, along with A Literary Bible, are his translations of core texts from Hebrew scripture and efforts to honor disparate and diverse voices from the texts which he feels are often flattened in modern translations for the sake of a unified style. As for the music, my guitar broke last Spring, so I had been experimenting with vocal-only music for Lent.  This is the way I used to sing during seminary when I’d take my plainsong psalter to Far Rockaway beach for an afternoon of screaming into the waves, or up to the top of Twin Peaks during CPE when I needed to shout at the sky for a while. Here it is recorded (at a slightly lower volume) with my Yeti THX mic. The tracks are all improvisations on the texts, hopefully hearkening back to Medieval chant origins in its embellishments on the tones and harmonies in the droning, with secret aspirations to be torch songs. Call it neo-plainsong-soul if you feel so inclined, and be sure to tell me what you think of it.

Psalm 1

Isaiah 8:16-24

Psalm 30

Psalm 82

Isaiah 9:1-7

Psalm 90

Psalm 101

Psalm 114


Other Songs

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
he has put down the mighty from their seats
Luke 1:51-52

My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Her eyes have scoured the floor for me: I, among the dust of earth, the busy victor of my stories; I, who have been so afraid, avoiding strangers, conversations, any chance that I might come to meet her gaze from across a crowded corner, from across a guarded border, from across the dinner table where she’s waiting.

Your eyes would turn to conquer me, your arm would hold me flat against the rhythms of your breathing: I, who have been so full of things; wealth, chiefly, cheaply held like tight fists in a boxing ring where I’ve been laid out for the count. It came so quickly to my chest it came without a sound: the glory of your Holy Name, sailing through the ages, ripping through the pages of the good we thought we’d made.

Here with stars above my head, bad at hiding, good as dead, out of breath, distressed and bleary eyed; you who threw me come to lay, propped by an elbow, near my face: you hoist me up and I am magnified.

Alright, OK

Other Songs

Get on this train, its pulling out
Get on my back, get off the ground
Forget your bag, leave it behind
I’ll pay for dinner and we’ll cancel all your credit cards online.

I have enough for you,
I’ll split everything I own in two,
I will feed you from my side,
I will hold you close to me
and tell you all shall be alright,
Ok? Alright.

Come here and curl up in my coat,
This train is twenty stops away from anywhere we want to go.
I’ll wake you up when we get there,
I’ll kiss your forehead while you sleep and keep my fingers in your hair.
The night is dark, the city wide,
Eight million stars to flash and fade upon a bed, a sun to rise,
And I will bring you into mine,
I’ll hang your coat up in my hall, I’ll put our boots out back to dry.

I have enough for you,
I’ll split everything I own in two,
I will feed you from my side,
I will hold you close to me
and tell you all shall be alright,
Ok? Alright.

Get on this train, its getting late,
And all we need are whole lives long to have, to hold, to be awake.

Holy, Holy

Other Songs

Dust off this straw hat of mine
Spit on these boots until they shine
Shake out the sleep from my wings
Take a swig of whisky and remind my voice to sing
Holy, Holy, Oh my Lord
Holy, Holy, Oh my Lord

Break up this ground like a blade
See all my old friends rising tall along the way
Wiping dirt out from their eyes
To see a rose horizon that the sun’s about to climb
Holy, Holy, Oh my Lord
Holy, Holy, Oh my Lord

And then a riot in the sky
A peal of angels with their arms twirling high
And they are dancing, they are laughing, they are free
Dressed up in their pearls just like the faggots used to be,

Holy, holy, holy Lord
God of power and might
Heaven and Earth are full of your glory
Hosanna in the highest
Blessed is the One
Who comes in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in the highest
Blessed is the One
Who comes in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in the highest
Holy, holy, holy.


Other Songs, Poetry

Jesus said, “Blessed are you who mourn,”
and the crowd shifted uneasily. Everyone knew
that Marjorie had lost her daughter just the month before,
and would have likely preferred one of the standards, like,
“Blessed are you, Lord God, Ruler of the Universe,” something
grand that might make the grief seem like less than what it
was, less like a shoe sized shard of glass kept in the nightstand
that her dreaming self would thrash from sleep to seize, tearing
through the bed by feathered pieces looking for a precious item
lost somewhere. The last thing she probably wanted was more
about her; or, was it the last thing all the others wanted? A few
searched the crowd briefly for her face to see. Meanwhile, Aiden
wasn’t in mourning at all; or, if he was he didn’t know for what,
he was simply depressed, and was that a blessing, too? He ended
up halfway to the other side of Queens this morning all because
he forgot to take the local shuttle when the train had been shut
down, and it was one of those little pin-prick failures that reaches
in to let the whole well of it bleed all over everything. He steered
himself between crying right there on the bus and smiling out the
window at the hour he would be forced to take from work. And
Francis, one too brave for tears, simply stamped his cigarette out
on the stoop he had been watching from, pissed that Christ was
there, speaking so directly of his life again without permission,
another page torn out from private conversations he had never
meant to have, hung up on the fence for all to read. Regardless,
each of these three died a bit there in the silence which then
followed, because there was no explanation tacked along, it
was only true. The crowd shifted, checked watches, started
drawing up their lists for the bodega, and waited while these
three released another parcel of the loneliness that thought
it could be solved in being filled by someone else; and
none of them grieved to see it go.