Psalm 48, Great is the Lord, orchestra only

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”

MP3 format. Orchestra-only version. Duration is 4:47.



The London Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Paul Ayres

Music by David Albracht

Orchestra Arrangement by Paul Ayres

Recording and Mixing Engineering by Lewis Jones

Protools Engineered by Jason

Mastered by Simon Gibson

Recorded in Studio 1, Abbey Road

Album cover: James, Jennylynd. Make a Joyful Noise. 2015. Painting. Acrylic on Canvas

Printed Sheet Music is available via JW Pepper.

Description Psalm 48, Great is the Lord, opens quietly with woodwinds that introduce the main melody set to the first two verses of the psalm. The early portion of this orchestra-only version approximates the main melody in the choir. When the first two verses of the psalm are repeated again later with the main melody, the orchestra enters with a full and rich string sound consisting of whole notes in the basses and cellos, and dotted half and quarter notes in the upper strings.

The ships of Tarshish and an east wind are introduced in verse 7 of this psalm. Quarter notes in the double-basses here, coupled with counter melody in the brass section, give a “swash-buckling” sound to distinguish this section from the similar melodic lines established earlier in verses 3-6.

The gradual buildup that is climbing in thirds from verses 9-12 dramatically leads to the final directive in the psalm in verse 13: “consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following”. Immediately thereafter, the strings play staccato 8th notes on the first and fourth beats of each measure for four measures. The reverb of these staccato notes is heard best in this orchestra-only version, and provides an excellent example of the beautiful acoustic characteristics of Studio 1 at Abbey Road.

All of the melodic lines in this song are then repeated in a “rounding” fashion building up to a false ending (or fermata). The woodwinds reprise the main melody softly, then the first violins run up a scale of 32nd notes to bring the entire orchestra back in for a dramatic finale.