Psalm 23

Franz Schubert

Psalm 23

D706, Op. 132 • “Gott ist mein Hirt”

About this work

It's almost beyond belief that Schubert wrote this beatific setting of the well-beloved Psalm 23 "The Lord is my Shepherd" as an examination piece. And yet it is so: composed in December 1820 at the request of Schubert's friend Anna Frolich as a test piece for her vocal pupils, Schubert's part song far transcends its original purpose to become a small-scale piece of musical religious art. Originally written for two sopranos and two altos, Psalm 23 has become a staple of women's choirs everywhere there are women's choirs. It's easy to understand why: from the exquisite harmonies of the piano's prelude -- the magical entry of the voices, the smooth voice writing, the clear progress of the harmonies -- to the final blissful statement of faith, Schubert's setting rivals his Ave Maria (D. 839) as one his most perfect pieces of religious vocal music.