— Magnus Andersson, Klassekampens musikkmagasin, 2022-10-10 ↗
«Orgelspillet kan knapt bli bedre: med Asheim selv på hovedorgelet og domorganist Kåre Nordstoga på kororgelet. Det vi imidlertid mest av alt hører her, er Asheims gode grep om orgelet som ensembleinstrument, samt hans fantasi rundt stemmens uttrykksmuligheter. Dette skaper et bevegende dybdepsykologisk bilde av menneskesinnet...»
The process behind this work originates from when Oslo Cathedral commissioned a large-scaled work by Nils Henrik Asheim for the inauguration of the church's new main pipe organ in 1998. The composer suggested including a choir to create a cycle of texts from the Book of Psalms, and the Oslo Cathedral Choir were more than willing to participate, with their dedication to the piece being integral to the work's development.
The commission resulted in The Book of Psalms - for choir and 2 organs.
Organ builders Ryde & Berg made both the main organ (with 53 voices) and the choir organ (16 voices), with the combination of the two becoming central to the concept of the work. The two instruments bathe the room in an immersive soundscape, with the choir representing the voice inside this.
The composer himself chose a selection of lines taken from 21 hymns, with the view to creating a holistic narrative through use of contrasts. Five “Allelujah” movements for organ complete each of the sections of the work. In the 1998 version, these were improvised movements for solo organ, but in the revised version from 2019 the movements were re-composed as organ duos. The titles of these five movements are taken from Psalm 150, v.1–3.