The Psalms Project brings together the two things I do professionally in life: composing music for media and being an ordained minister in the Anglican Church. But I’ve always found the Psalms puzzling. All those sudden and extreme changes in emotion are difficult to understand. I tried to rationalise these mood swings, but a purely intellectual understanding of the Psalms, however well thought through, is not enough: we are forced to admit that they express rapidly shifting, and at times contradictory feelings. Could this offer us a clue, though? By being open to the fluctuating, often unpredictable world of emotion, maybe we could go deeper into the Psalms, and begin to come to terms with our own experiences too.
As a composer, I try to awaken feelings and create shifts in mood. For the audience this can be a conscious experience, but it’s often more subliminal. This is especially true with music for radio, TV & film. In dramas and documentaries, music that might, when heard on its own, sound emotionally restrained (or even boring) transforms pictures and other sounds, in an alchemy that draws out our sense of fear, courage, or humour.