Elaine Pagels's book repeats a winning formula: contrast the canon's controversial parts with more appealing Gnostic selections.
Easter | Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C)
Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30
It’s the second movement of Leonard Bernstein’s choral work, Chichester Psalms. A boy soprano (or a countertenor), in the “role” of the shepherd boy, David, sings in Hebrew the opening verses of Psalm 23. He is accompanied–sparingly, fittingly–by the harp. The first several measures are tender but not tentative; filled with sentiment, but without sentimentality (this per Bernstein’s instructions). When the women’s voices take over the text at גַּם כִּי־אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת . . . (Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . .) there’s an ethereal echo-canon effect. This part of the movement, when executed well, is something sublime.
“There is the danger of protecting ourselves from God by striving to be passive. The ‘I’ is very active in its attempt to surrender.”
by Amy FrykholmMarch 22, 2012