2016-10-16 Notes from the Bench

“I Will Lift Mine Eyes” by Howard Helvey

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate



I will lift mine eyes unto the hills;
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.
God will not let you fall;
God, who watches over your life, will not slumber
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Our God watches over you;
Our God grants you shade at your right hand.
The sun will not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
God will watch over your soul.
The Lord will preserve your coming and going
From now and forevermore.


Howard Helvey (b. 1968) is an active composer, arranger, and pianist. He serves as the organist and choirmaster of the historic Calvary Episcopal Church in Cincinnati, OH, where he currently lives. Mr. Helvey is a native of Missouri. He studied music at the University of Missouri-Columbia where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree in composition, and the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music where he earned a Master of Music degree in composition and piano. Additional studies include his work at the Chautauqua Institution in New York in piano, and organ with Gerre Hancock, particularly hymn-accompanying and improvisation.

Helvey’s best-known compositions are those for choir; his other works include those for instrumental ensembles, and has published over one hundred original compositions and arrangements. He is in high demand as a guest conductor and speaker, and is frequently commissioned to write works for prestigious choral ensembles. Helvey’s works have appeared on numerous recordings, and are regularly performed in prestigious concert venues and on public broadcasts, both within the United States, and internationally. Helvey has repeatedly been a first prize recipient from the John Ness Beck Foundation in recognition of his outstanding achievements in choral composition.

In addition to a rigorous writing schedule, Helvey is the co-found and conductor of the professional chamber choir, Cincinnati Fusion Ensemble; a member since 1997 of the Steinbach/Helvey Piano Duo, a collaboration between himself and Richard Steinbach, that features piano literature for four-hands and two pianos; and a member of the Hannaford Piano Trio with violinist Mari Thomas and cellist Susan Petersen.

The text for I Will Lift Mine Eyes is based on Psalm 121, our psalm for the day.

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