Praise Life! Praise Wonder! is a setting of Rami Shapiro’s adaptation of Psalm 150, and was commissioned by Sharim v’Sharot, Dr. Elayne Robinson Grossman, Music Director, in honor of their 18th (Chai/Life) year as a chorus. I have known Elayne for 35 years, and am thrilled to write this celebratory piece for her and her chorus!
For the commissioned piece, we wanted to do a piece that celebrates life, and expresses gratitude and wonder. After thinking about many different possibilities, Elayne and I decided on doing a setting of Psalm 150—the last of the book of Psalms, a great outburst of joy and praise, and also a text that has been set many times. I had never set Psalm 150, so I was excited by that. But then there was the choice of Hebrew vs. English, and if English, which translation? We decided on a superb poem by Rami Shapiro, which is not exactly a translation, but more of a transformation of the psalm. I had set Rami’s poetry before in other choral works, and love his wonderful way of engaging with the text to create something new which is nevertheless deeply tied to the original.
The commission of this piece was funded by the following generous donors:
—Amy Rappaport and Allan Freedman in celebration of their marriage, and in celebration of the Chai – 18th Anniversary of Sharim V’Sharot, Dr. Elayne Robinson Grossman, Music Director and Conductor
—Ron and Joan Portman, L’dor vador: in honor of our family and their love of Jewish music
—Max Yaffe and Joan Amatniek, in honor of synagogue Singers everywhere.
Rami M. Shapiro, Psalm 150
From “Accidental Grace: Poetry, Prayers, and Psalms”
look and see
listen and hear
taste and touch and smell
the awesome simplicity of This.
in sacred places.
through just acts and compassionate deeds
With upbeat horn, lilting harp, entrancing lyre.
With drum and dance
violin and flute
Let all that breathe
Breathe in psalms
breathe out hymns.
Breathe and sing
and let joy resound
and without you.