On taking up his post at Gonville and Caius College in 1960, Peter Tranchell inherited a Choir of 12 male voices, made up of tenors, baritones and basses. He quickly realised that singing the psalms to traditional Anglican chant was not satisfactory with a male-voice choir. In The Caian of 1971 he wrote: “Bishop Hugh Montefiore, when Dean of the College, was responsible for the introduction of special musical settings of the psalms, with illuminating refrains. After ten years, the tradition has crystallised into the singing of these settings as a regular item at evensongs on Thursdays.” Although not an admirer of Gelineau’s settings, Tranchell wanted to emulate the responsorial structure with the congregation singing a repeating antiphon between the verses which are sung by the choir. Occasionally, the melody of the psalm or the antiphon is developed from an appropriate plainsong melody, as in Psalm 150. Above all, though, he wanted the music to be attractive and memorable.
Peter Tranchell wrote this setting of Psalm 121 in 1962 for unison voices and organ. The score published here is a later transposition in A.
The setting in A was recorded on Music from Caius, and is reproduced here:
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