This setting of Psalm 24 dates from 1916. It is written for tenor soloist, choir, orchestra, and organ. Scholars have pointed out that her interest in Psalm settings at this time, as well as her work on a setting of an opera based on a fairy tale with wartime themes, shows a concern for the issues of her day, particularly the First World War. Indeed, in listening to her Psalm 24 it would be hard to overlook the marked change in character from the driving opening to the more solemn middle section, a change that coincides with the line: “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.”
Lili Boulanger’s health progressively worsened during the mid-1910s. She died in 1918 at the age of 24.
Text for Psalm 23 (King James Version):
The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.