I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes

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Featured Recording
Chamber Singers of Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, MD.
William C. Evans, conductor

Psalm 121 has long been a very moving sacred text to me, but I feel it is one that has been often misinterpreted, even by some of my favorite composers. On its surface, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help” seems like a joyful statement, but I believe that the truth is deeper. An ancient Mediterranean legend holds that as a wolf dies it looks up to the hills in the hope that its pack will come to rescue it. As a shepherding people, the ancient Hebrews must have known about this old tale.
This psalm is therefore a desperate and pleading text. It is about struggle with faith and spirituality and the realization that the benefits of faith are intangible: for the psalm writer, God’s help will come, but it will come after he dies. This struggle – the struggle with faith at times of great, even mortal, crisis – is central to our experience as human beings. The message of psalm 121 is a moment in the Bible that transcends the Judeo-Christian framework and resonates with the spiritual experiences of people – of all faiths and no faith alike – throughout the world.

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