Listen: Psalm 96

Excerpt from a recording of a LOFT (Living Our Faith Together) service at Calvin College, performed by with the Calvin College Cappella choir, the Evangelical Choral Society, the Calvin College Orchestra and the congregation, under the direction of John Nelson.

Watch a complete video of the LOFT service, which includes a presentation from Peter Bannister on the goals of Soli Deo Gloria's Psalms Project. Peter's talk starts at about 8:02, and the performance of the piece begins at 55:00.

For information on performing this work or obtaining a perusal score, please contact SDG.


Additional performances

May 29, 2012
Les Billetes Church
Paris, France

About the composer

Born in London in 1966 but resident in Paris since 1989, Peter Bannister has earned awards at the national and international level as a composer and performer, including the Prix André Caplet for composition from the Institut de France as well as prizes at the Chartres and Nuremberg international organ competitions and three awards at the International Composition Competition in San Sebastian (Spain).

His catalogue comprises orchestral, choral, chamber and solo vocal and instrumental music, with performances in Europe and North America, as well as broadcasts on Italian and American public radio.

As a solo pianist and organist, Bannister has given concerto performances and recitals in Britain, Austria, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the USA. Committed to inter-disciplinary dialogue between theology, art, and science, he has given guest lectures at the Institut Catholique de Paris, American Episcopal Cathedral in Paris, St Andrews Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts, Southern Methodist University, Boston University, Calvin, Carthage and Wheaton Colleges.

For a complete biography, visit Peter Bannister's website.

For Peter Bannister's music and theology blog, visit "Da stand das Meer"


Psalm 96

Peter Bannister
Psalm 96

Mixed chorus (SATB), orchestra, organ
DURATION: 8 minutes
TEXT: Psalm 96
Choral work incorporating African rhythms and tonality with percussion; options for audience/congregational clapping participation. Psalms Project commission




World Premiere:
May 7, 2011
Calvin College Capella
Calvin College Campus Choir
Calvin College Orchestra
John Nelson, conductor
Calvin College
Grand Rapids, MI

Calvin College Covenant Fine Arts Center Auditorium   

The closing concert for Calvin College’s Artist Series 2011 on Saturday, May 7, 2011, featured the premiere of Peter Bannister’s SDG-commissioned work Psalm 96. This premiere was not only the launch of SDG's three-year pilot program for the Psalms Project, but also a tribute to the late Elsbeth Shannon.






Family of Elsbeth Shannon with composer Peter Bannister (right)  

Elsbeth was a remarkable woman who became fascinated with the African rhythms and tonality that she heard emerging in the African church, during the period that she and her husband, Ralph, spent as missionaries in Africa. In honor of her life, the Shannon family worked with SDG to commission a work that would pay fitting tribute to her goal of creating a new African hymnal as an expression of Psalm 96: “Sing unto the Lord a NEW song.”

Though Elsbeth never saw herself as one for whom a piece of music should be commissioned ("No way. Not me! You only do that for big important people who do

great things in life."), her loving family and friends collectively decided that a new piece of music would, in fact, be just the right way to celebrate her life and her love of singing.

As Peter Bannister composed this work, he wrote, "It was clear to me that my setting of Psalm 96 would in some way have to make a reference to Africa." (Click to read Bannister's program notes.)

The resulting work, complete with clapping and stamping and drumming, was enthusiastically received both at the gala Calvin College concert on Saturday, where it was performed with a full orchestra, and at a campus worship service on Sunday for LOFT (Living Our Faith Together), where the congregation joined the choir in the clapping sections.

  Conductors John Nelson and Robert Nordling

“A wonderful piece; challenging to perform yet beautifully crafted. It has ethnic integrity—skillfully referring to the African roots to which it is dedicated—and musical depth. The audience (congregational) participation is approachable enough to help them participate actively in this challenging music for performer and audience alike.”—Robert Nordling, conductor of the Calvin College Orchestra for the concert performance, May 7, 2011

“I was particularly impressed by the congregational singing and clapping so movingly inserted into Peter’s Psalm setting. This is a fresh dynamic which I hope other composers in our Psalms Project will sign on to.”—John Nelson, conductor, on the LOFT service performance, May 8, 2011

"Our students grew from learning this music and the theological motivations that produced it.”—David Fuentes, Professor of Composition and Theory, Calvin College

"The rhythm made the worship come alive in my body!"—percussion player in the orchestra

"I really loved singing Psalm 96 ... This was one of the first pieces I have ever heard that made modern music accessible to the average congregation member without robbing the music of its depth. Psalm 96 presented a lot of what makes modern music modern, while providing a singable tune and an attractive African "'beat,' making the music enjoyable for all audiences."—member of Calvin College Capella