melodies for a life time

Shows and Recording by Robert Barham


The Story behind Psalms


psalmsThe seed for Psalms was first planted way back in 1987. I had just finished writing the score for the musical 'Why?' and after one of the performances a lady by the name of Eileen Goddard suggested that I should try setting some of the Psalms to my music.

I went away and adapted the words of two Psalms and set them to music. 

Having gotten off to a flying start, I then struggled.
I looked at a few other Psalms but didn't really get much further. With other performances of 'Why?' taking precedent and then other projects taking over, the work of adapting more Psalms ground to a halt. 

Over the next fifteen years or so Psalms remained a word in a little book of ideas which I keep. Every so often I would pick up a book of Psalms and try to adapt some more, but without much success. My problem really was that I didn't know what to do with the songs once I had written them; I didn't want to simply do a concert of ten or so adapted Psalms. Then finally in 2002, I had just finished writing 'Archie' and its accompanying book - 'The Journey' and I was looking at what to do next. Psalms still remained in my little book of ideas, so I thought I'd give it one last try. 

I don't remember exactly how or why, but the idea of doing something based on a radio request show came in to my head. I went away and wrote a sixty minute story which used the Psalms to illustrate points in the story teller's life. I showed the resulting story to two friends of mine. They felt that although the idea of the radio show worked and liked what I had written, they didn't however feel that the Psalms were integral to the story. 

I realized they were right, and went away a little dejected, but at least maybe I was now on the right track with the idea of the radio show. I stuck with that idea, and wrote another version, thankfully this time one which we all felt worked. And this is the version which is currently being performed. 

I have to say that of all the things I have ever written, Psalms has been the hardest, but it's one of the pieces I have the most pride in finishing.