Anthem 15 – Be thou my Judge, O Lord

Welcome to Anthem 15 in my attempt to write a new choir anthem every week for a year. I’m Kevin Mulryne and I hope you will enjoy listening to my progress throughout 2024. Please do visit the website Anthem52.com, follow along on x.com – @realanthem52 or Instagram – @realanthem52 and send me a message to show@anthem52.com.

This week I returned to the Church of England Lectionary and one of the psalms set for this week – xxvi or 26, depending on your preference. Here are the lyrics:


Words for Anthem 15:

Be thou my Judge, O Lord, for I have walked innocently:

my trust hath been also in the Lord, therefore shall I not fall.

Examine me, O Lord, and prove me:

try out my reins and my heart.

For thy loving-kindness is ever before mine eyes:

and I will walk in thy truth.

Once again, I found that fewer words makes for a more manageable writing process. I also used a semi-random technique for the first time. I set the first line of the Psalm ‘Be thou my Judge O Lord’ by placing the notes on the stave without listening to them being played by the software at the same time. I knew I wanted another pseudo-canon entry approach for the start of the vocal parts so I sketched out what I thought it would look like. Then I listened to how it actually sounded and tweaked it until it sounded as good as it looked. It worked rather well and I converted it into an organ introduction with some nice offbeat movement.

I also knew I wanted some triplet crotchets (quarter notes) in the choir parts against some straight crotchets in the organ part to add some interesting cross-rhythms. It’s not too obvious but I think it spices up the second line well when the word ‘innocently’ appears.

There is a mix of different approaches to the organ part in this anthem. Sometimes I have copied and adapted the vocal parts to provide familiarity in solo organ passages, sometimes I have used bass pedal notes to accompany the choir and sometimes there is doubling or near doubling of the choir parts in the organ.

Beginning in B flat major, a contrasting G minor passage comes along quite quickly to illustrate the words, ‘Examine me, O Lord, and prove me: try out my reins and my heart.’ There’s then a good contrast when the first material reappears after a rallentando (slowing down) and I reuse a trick from previous anthems to maintain interest by adding in more organ accompaniment.

Also like a previous anthem, I add in a sort of epilogue with brand new material to finish the piece off. ‘For thy loving kindness is ever before my eyes’ is set in a loud, triumphant manner to finish off my fifteenth anthem.

Perhaps for the first time, I prefer the Logic Pro version of the anthem to the MuseScore one. I think I’m finally approaching a decent sound from the software although this is another loud-ish anthem and so it could be that the Epic Choir plugin sounds better at this volume than on ‘a cappella’ (choir on its own) anthems. Certainly the organ plugin is very effective here. As usual, had I been able to spend more time on the mixing, I’m sure it would have come out even better.

See what you think:

Well, what do you think? Let me know on X.com @realanthem52, Instagram @realanthem52, as a comment below or via email show@anthem52.com

I hope you will join me next week for a new episode (perhaps featuring my second interview) – and a new anthem – only 37 to go – but until then the question remains – will I make it to Anthem 52?


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