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Al breekt een zondvloed los - beurtzang naar psalm 32 (v.6,7) = And Should A Deluge Break Loose - Antiphonal Song from Psalm 32:6-7, 1979 - 1981

Identifier: DOE 11

Scope and Contents

Antiphonal Song from Psalm 32:6-7 for Assembly and SATB Choir, Cantor and Schola for Keyboard (Organ) Accompaniment


  • Publication: 1979 - 1981


Biographical / Historical

Oosterhuis' choice of text, three fragments from Psalm 32, express total confidence in God. No matter what comes along, be it the primeval deluge or the metaphorical swamping by alien invaders, Israel will enjoys share an unconditional trust in the One who said to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3, I Am; I Shall Be There. Even in deepest distress, the psalmist resorted to God as the Ark of Salvation. Noah immediately comes to mind as the builder of the prototypical ark against the flood, the vessel through which creation was restored. When God made a covenant with Moses on the mountain top, the tablets of stone on which God's words were symbolically engraved were encased in a golden ark, which would find a home in the temple of Zion. This was the antitheses of the golden calf of idolatry around which those at the foot of the mountain had erected as they relapsed into their former ways.

The Ark is perceived as a bulwark of strength and security, a mighty fortress, that down to this very day carries the assurance that God is for us. This song then is a celebration of events occurring today, this very day, in a breathless celebration of all that is being done on our behalf. Huijbers intuitively turned to the chant melos Hodie, drawing on Gregorian tone 1g for its melody Hodie engenders a sense of trust in the faithful God whose coming among us we celebrate each day, bu especially when today is Christmas. The Second Vespers antiphon for the feast, Hodie Christus Natus Est - Today, Christ is born for us, sings of God's glory revealed on this day in both heaven and earth. On this day, today, the hopes and dreams of humanity are fulfilled. Hodie is a litany of good fortune. Hodie is sung four times, today, Christ is born; today, the Savior has appeared; today the Angels and Archangels rejoice on earth; today, the just rejoice, singing Gloria in exclesis Deo. Alleluia. We gather to remember those occasions when the Deity acted on our behalf, in the belief that these promises made to us are today being fulfilled.

He has scored Oosterhuis' text as an impressionistic painting, for four separate groups of voices, SATB Choir, Schola, Cantor (who are constantly in dialogue together) and assembly. As an exercise in Carl Orff's technique of la pédagogie musicale élémentaire, he gives the fundamental voice to the Choir and assembly, singing simple tonic solfa, in five basic ascending steps and four descending strops, repeated throughout the entire piece. In the dialogue between Schola and Cantor, fragments of the psalm verses tell the story, tossed backwards and forwards for consideration and reflection. They are like the surging waves on a storm-tossed sea, rising and falling in 4-voice canonic variations, And should a deluge break loose, always You have allayed my fear; You are the Ark of my Salvation. This musical figure becomes a 4-voice canon, a carpet of sound to accompany the vocal fragments. The canon is set to a wordless text, the tonic solfa fah-soh-lah-te-doh-te-lah-soh establishing a Lydian modality, which Huijbers suggests may also be sung to the Greek Kyrie/Christe Eleison, a traditional form of intercessory prayer. Structurally, this song falls into three sections. There is a long canonic build-up (measures 1-65), in which the low, soft opening chords establish the canon until the dialogue emerges; in the course of the dialogue, the Schola briefly steals the wordless text from the Chorus. Then follows a brief but violent keyboard eruption (66-73), the hitherto reserved accompaniment taking on an enormous outburst of energy, leaving all voices suspended. Like all volcanic eruptions, this outburst is short-lived and the final flowing, unwinding, of the piece is a long decrescendo (74-102), to an accompaniment of extreme simplicity and unsuspected beauty. Huijbers regards this piece as a dramatic oratorio, descriptive of the saving waters of the Red Sea replacing the destructive waves of the Deluge. I said that, on paper the song looks quite complex, especially because of its length. Bernard shrugged at this suggestion, then laughed. "Musicale élémentaire, complex? It's the basis of all music! And why does it look so difficult? Perhaps because it is so simple!" And then he looked at me in his customary sly manner and admitted, "But no one will probably ever dare sing it!" - Tony Barr


1 compact disc

Language of Materials


Alternate Numbering

BH DOE 11 JM 258

Repository Details

Part of the Saint John's University Archives and Special Collections Repository

P O Box 2500
Alcuin Library
Collegeville Minnesota 56321 United States