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Content about Choral music

June 1, 2007

Choosing the right choral music has got to be the single most challenging task I have faced in the 35 years I have directed church choirs. I dread the idea of buying sixty copies of something that will not work well in the service; and I don’t want to spend even twenty minutes rehearsing an anthem that will not be edifying for the body of believers.

June 1, 2007

J. S. Bach’s 200-plus cantatas hold many choral treasures. Some of the best known, such as “Jesus, Joy of Our (Man’s) Desiring” from Cantata 147, are well within the grasp of an average volunteer choir. Many of the opening choruses, on the other hand, are a challengeeven for professional singers. In Leipzig Bach was responsible for the music in several (at least four) churches, and therefore needed four choirs. Three of these were able to sing difficult music, but one could “only just barely sing a chorale” (New Bach Reader, 146).

March 1, 2007

Our church follows the seasons of the Christian year and the lectionary Scripture passages, changing banners and colors accordingly. When we planned a service called “Singing Through the Christian Year,” it provided us with the opportunity to “walk through” the Christian year in one evening and to reprise many of the choir anthems we had learned and used in services over the past year.

March 1, 2001

It is 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning. About forty teenagers have assembled in the choir rehearsal room at Islington United Church in west Toronto. Most of them look sleepy; many look as though they just stepped out of the shower. But they’re here, and as they warm up their voices and begin to sing, I’m reminded of newborn butterflies drying their wings and getting ready for flight. A parent checks attendance and solves last-minute problems.

December 1, 1993

One of the greatest musical joys of childhood is singing a round for the first time. What a discovery that "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" can be sung by different voices all beginning at different times!

September 1, 1992

We've all heard them—those words that strike fear in the hearts of choir directors everywhere: "And what are you doing for Christmas?" Each year, toward the end of the summer, we start struggling with the annual problem. Our minds begin sorting through sundry ideas and possibilities, recalling the successes of Christmases past, searching for just the right combination of music and the Word.

September 1, 1991

Listed on these pages are carols and hymns suitable for each of the nine Scripture lessons of the traditional English evening service. Begun by Dean Eric Milner-White in 1918 at King's College Chapel in Cambridge, England, the service of lessons and carols takes place in that chapel at Vespers on Christmas Eve to this day.

The lessons trace salvation history from Genesis through the gospels. After each lesson a carol or hymn is sung, either by the congregation or by a choir. Sometimes two carols are sung after one lesson.

September 1, 1990
ADVENT

Jean Berger, "The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee," Augsburg 11-1264. Moderately difficult SATB (some unusual melodic intervals in each voice part); well worth the effort.

Paul Bunjes, arr,, "Comfort, Comfort Ye My People" (GENEVAN 42), Concordia 98-1388. Bunjes' setting of the Genevan chorale, simply harmonized, with an active accompaniment for strings, organ, or combination. (Works well with two violins and organ if a quartet is unavailable.) Easy SATB.

June 1, 1990
For organ, other instruments, solo voice, and choir

Although nearly all church weddings include organ music, many couples seem uncertain about the place for other musicians in the ceremony. Should family and friends who are musicians be encouraged to do their part to make the occasion joyful and memorable?

June 1, 1990

What songs may be sung in a Christian wedding? Must we use one of the "traditional marches" for our processional and recessional, or is other music available? Must the music preceding the wedding always be soft?

As couples begin to think more and more seriously about their weddings, questions about music are inevitable. A Christian wedding is a sacred service, reflecting a scriptural view of love and marriage. How can we convey that same sacred theme through music?

December 1, 1989

Sacred choral music from the Afro-American tradition

In the past thirty years, particularly since Vatican II in the Roman Catholic Church, there has been a continuing growth of interest in non-Western sacred choral music. Every denomination has diligently sought to assimilate this music into their worship services. Many have been unsuccessful because of a lack of performance-practice knowledge of the material and the sheer frustration of acquiring the music in written form.

June 1, 1988

As the new choir season gets under way each fall, many choral groups begin rehearsing anthems for two festive services: Reformation Sunday and Thanksgiving Day. Fortunately, a wealth of material is available for these two events. Many published anthems are based on familiar hymns associated with the Reformation and on traditional hymns of thanksgiving. You'll find some of those anthems listed on this page.

March 1, 1988

The list on this page focuses specifically on hymn concertatos for this part of the church year. A hymn concertato is a festive arrangement of a hymn, usually featuring congregational as well as choral and instrumental involvement. Brass fanfares and accompaniments appear frequently in concertatos.

December 1, 1987

The hymn anthems listed on this page are appropriate for use during Lent and Easter. All of the tunes and texts appear in one or more of the three new Reformed hymnals: Rejoice in the Lord, the Psalter Hymnal, and the Trinity Hymnal.

Choirs will discover that the hymn anthem is an effective way of familiarizing both themselves and the congregation with some of the hymns in these new hymnals. A stanza from a choral arrangement can serve well as an alternate stanza for choir in congregational singing.

September 1, 1987

The choral music listed on these pages (all hymn anthems) is appropriate for use in worship during Advent, Christmas, or Epiphany. All the tunes appear in one or more of the three new Reformed hymnals: Rejoice in the Lord, Psalter Hymnal, and The Trinity Hymnal. All entries are SATB a cappella unless indicated otherwise.

Our choir has discovered that the hymn-anthem is an effective way of introducing new songs to the congregation. We follow a process similar to the following:

September 1, 1986

If the most important role of a choir is to lead congregational singing, then the hymn concertatos must rank very high on the list of choral music for worship. Folkert describes how concertatos have added to his own congregation's celebration in worship and recommends several within the range of the average church choir.