From Generation to Generation

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From Generation to Generation

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From Generation to Generation is a “psalm cycle” drawing from the psalter that tells a story of praise and faith through the generations. As such, it calls for intergenerational musical forces: a junior choir, a youth choir, and an adult choir, in addition to a mezzo-soprano soloist who serves as a narrator, plus organ and orchestra. The eleven movements are grouped into four themed sections: how we praise God, how we ask for forgiveness and guidance, how we love and are loved by God, and how we understand the eternity of God’s love and faithfulness.

The first section begins with an introductory declamation from the mezzo-soprano soloist about God’s wondrous works, how we learned of them from our ancestors, and how we will pass them on to our children: “My people, hear my teaching; . . . We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” The adult choir responds with a jubilant song of praise: “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name forever.” The junior choir joyfully praises God in its own way with a variety of instruments—trumpet, harp, lyre, tambourine, strings, flute, and cymbals—with musical representations from the orchestra.

The mood changes in the second section as the mezzo-soprano asks the Lord to “hear me . . . and answer me, for I am poor and needy.” The adult choir continues penitently: “Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.” But the youth choir takes God’s forgiveness as an opportunity to learn how to walk in the path of God: “show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.” The mezzo-soprano continues this message—“Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds”—but transitions the theme into one that acknowledges how God will forgive and “restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.”

God’s restoring us is an expression of His love, which is the theme of the third section. The adult choir and the mezzo-soprano recognize this love: the adult choir sings, “I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations,” and the soloist declares, “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” The extremity of God’s love, from the “highest mountains” to “the great deep,” is illustrated musically by high woodwinds against low brass.

The mezzo-soprano announces the fourth and final section with another section of the same Psalm that opens the cycle, showing that we have come full-circle but this time looking to the future: that “the next generation would know [God’s statutes], even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” All of the choirs join together for the first time in the piece in an exultant song of praise that tells of God’s eternal love: “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

This joyous music was commissioned for the Third Presbyterian Church Family in loving memory of W. Frank Fowler, Jr., and Louise B. Fowler by their family. Frank and Louise truly lived their faith as it had been taught to them by their own loving parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.