Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name


Department (Legacy)

Department of Music Theory and Composition

Committee Chair

Rouse, Steve


Hardy, Thomas, 1840-1928--Musical settings; Psalms (Music)--139th Psalm; Sacred songs with orchestra; Songs (Medium voice) with orchestra


When I was in sixth grade my Sunday School teacher, Rebecca McIntosh O'Dell, had my entire class memorize Psalms 139. While I have never been particularly adept at memorizing anything, to this day I can recite this Psalm by heart. In the Spring of 2010 cancer took Rebecca's life. It was this tragedy that inspired the dual texts of Fearfully, Wonderfully. The first text, sung exclusively by the solo tenor, is most of the Psalm Rebecca taught me. The second text, sung almost exclusively by the solo baritone, is a poem by Thomas Hardy entitled A Wasted Illness. Fearfully, Wonderfully follows the joint journey of the combined texts, beginning contemplatively with the Psalm, and slowly exploring the changing moods of the two texts. The piece is through-composed, but the horn and viola present a theme in the introduction that permeates the work in modified forms. This theme is meant to represent God's presence, which never fades despite our ever-changing circumstances. The arcs of the two texts are similar, lending themselves to being spliced together over the course of the piece. However at times the individual meanings seem at odds with one another. In particular, the end of the Psalm combined with the end of Hardy's poem blurs the line between life and death, and it is up to the listener to decide whether the peaceful resolution at the end of the work stems from the recovery or the passing of the subject.