Ponder My Words, Psalm V, 1862. William James Linton, wood engraver, 1812-1898, after drawings by John Franklin, history painter, born ca. 1800. Pages from The Psalms of David, with illustrations by John Franklin, engraved by W. J. Linton. London: Sampson Low, Son, and Co., 1862, 5-6. Courtesy of Jan Lancaster, Washington, D.C.
Gilchrist's major choral/orchestral works include his prize-winning God Is Our Refuge and Strength: Psalm 46 (1882), A Christmas Idyll (1898), An Easter Idyll (1907), and The Lamb of God (1909). Though his most successful works were based on sacred texts, he also composed secular pieces such as the ballad The Rose (1887); The Legend of the Bended Bow (1888), a cantata for men's voices and piano four-hands; and The Syrens (1904) for women's voices, flute, horn, violin, cello, and piano.
Gilchrist's 1915 anthem Ponder My Words was one of the works chosen for a service celebrating the centennial of his birth in 1946. The service was held at New Jerusalem Church in Philadelphia. The anthem opens with a soprano solo singing an expressive setting of the Psalm-Five text. At "consider my meditation," an extended diatonic sequence leads to a choral repetition of the opening music. A chromatic-third progression leads to the next solo entrance, agitato "O harken Thou unto the voice of my calling." The solo line builds to "my King and my God," marked "appass., sostenuto." The climax of the anthem occurs through a series of hemiolas rising to the soloist's highest note at "and will look up." The opening music returns, and the piece concludes meditatively with three pp repetitions of "ponder my words."