Artistic Di=ector
"Psalms, Psalms, Psalms" "Psalms, Psalms, Psalms" > Three Songs of Ascents (Psalm 123, 128 & 134) for flute, clarinet, 2 violins and cello

Three Songs of Ascents (Psalm 123, 128 & 134) for flute, clarinet, 2 violins and cello

Three Songs of Ascents was originally composed for Women's Chorus in 2002. In 2006, the work received a "Special Mention” from the Composition Competition of the New York Treble Singers (NYTS) and was premiered by NYTS under the baton of Dr. Virginia Davidson at the NYTS Meet The Composer Series in the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City.

In 2015, Gideon Gee-Bum Kim arranged the original Three Songs of Ascents for flute, clarinet, two violins and cello for the Toronto Messiaen Ensemble’s “Psalm” project. The piece is based on three Psalms (Psalm 123, 128 and 134) from the “Song of Degrees” (Ascents) series (Psalm 120~134) in the Volume 5 of the Book of Psalms (Psalm 107~150) which is the ultimate praise of the people of God to the LORD in His “grace” and “peace”.

The first song, Psalm 123 is static with modal progressions. It expresses the “peace” of the people of God who lifted their eyes to the LORD by the grace of God.

The second song, Psalm 128 contrasts the first song in rhythmic, dynamic and tonal progression. The rhythm of Psalm 128 collaborates with the character of the Korean traditional rhythm, especially the rhythms of Pansori or Sanjo that can bring the image of “happiness” and “dynamic” as a symbol of Jesus Christ, the abundant “blessings” of God.

The final movement is a “hallelujah” type of song. While the previous two songs were mostly processed in the polyphony texture, Psalm 134 begins with a melodic unison to emphasize the “joy” of the people of God. The song is developed into a polyphonic texture "sift” and “augmentation”. With all of these processes, the final song expresses the exceeding glee of the people of God who ascend the Sanctuary by the grace of the LORD.

(Psalm 123)

1 (A Song of degrees.) Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.

2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

3 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.

4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

(Psalm 128)

1 (A Song of degrees.) Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.

2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.

3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.

5 The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.

6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel.

(Psalm 134)

1 (A Song of degrees.) Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.

2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.

3 The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.




Gideon Gee-Bum Kim, managing/artistic directo
Copyright 2015 by Toronto Messiaen Ensemble