How to Choose Music for Your SAB Choir (+ 18 Anthem Ideas)

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Choosing music you like and think will work well in your worship service is one thing; choosing music that’s accessible for your choir is a whole different ball game.

It's important to think about what your choir can realistically do and what they can do well; what will challenge them to grow and learn and yet be meaningful for them, as well? What will lift them up and build their confidence while also inspiring their faith?

Some of you may be in a small church with a small choir and limited resources, searching for accessible music to sing on a weekly basis. Others of you may be searching for anthems that work well on low-attendance Sundays or during the summer months when choir members are traveling.

Regardless of your situation and how many people you have in your choir right now, when it comes to choosing music that is doable and realistic, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Range

    How high and low do the parts go? Do they stay in those extended registers for any period of time? The most challenging issues are often the high-end of the soprano and tenor ranges. How high can your sopranos and tenors really sing (and sing well)?

  2. Divisi

    Is there any divisi within a part (e.g. Soprano I, Soprano II)? How often does it divide? Do you have enough singers in a given section to cover the parts? If you leave out the divisi, will it sacrifice the integrity of the work? 

  3. Singability

    Are there any large leaps or awkward intervals to sing or is it mostly steps and skips? How adept is your choir at singing larger intervals? Is it the same few intervals over and over again, or does it change? Are they capable of carrying a more difficult line independently and staying in tune?

  4. Rhythm

    Are there any dotted or advanced rhythms or syncopations that may be challenging for your group? Is it the same challenging rhythm over and over again, or does it change?

Taking some time to really evaluate the anthems you choose for your choir and assess the abilities of your group in a given season will equip your choir for success and prepare you to direct and lead to the best of your abilities.

Looking for a few ideas to help get you started? Here are 18 accessible anthems for your SAB choir:

Accessible Anthems for Your SAB Choir

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You Are Mine 
David Haas
2-part, TTBB, SSA, SAB, or SATB Choir with Piano

The simple-verse chorus structure of this anthem works well with small choirs: have soloists or small groups sing the verses (or women, then men, then everyone), with everyone singing the chorus each time.

Who Will Be a Witness
arr. Donald Moore
TB, 2-part mixed, or SAB Choir with Piano

Available in three different voicings, this anthem is a fun, rhythmic setting of the traditional spiritual. Great for a men’s ensemble!

Gathered As One
Paul A. Tate & Deanna Light
SAB Choir with Piano

This lovely text describes what it means to be part of the fellowship of believers and “gathered as one” into the family of God. Mix it up by having soloists or small groups sing the verses and the full choir sing the chorus.

We Are Called
arr. Mark Hayes
SAB or SATB Choir with Piano

A thoughtful choral setting of this modern hymn. Great text and a flowing piano accompaniment.

Blest Are They 
David Haas
SAB Choir with Piano

Similar to You Are Mine, mentioned above, this anthem has a verse-chorus structure that lends itself especially well to smaller choirs. A great opportunity to feature a soloist, or two!

Hush! Somebody’s Callin’ My Name 
arr. Brazeal Dennard
2-part, TTBB, SAB, or SATB Choir, a cappella

The repeating chorus in this anthem is one that will stay with you throughout the week. Lots of great teaching moments and opportunities to work on dynamics, consonants, and phrase-shaping.

Soon and Very Soon 
arr. Jack Schrader
2-part, TTBB, SAB, or SATB Choir with Piano

A well-known spiritual available in a variety of voicings. Great for summer or throughout the year, plus it has a fun piano part!

Ubi Caritas 
Victor C. Johnson
2-part or 3-part Choir with Piano

A beautiful setting of this (easy-to-sing) Latin text and a wonderful way to incorporate some musical variety into your choirs repertoire this year. Works well as an intergenerational anthem with a youth or childrens choir, too!

Pie Jesu 
Mary Lynn Lightfoot
2-part, TTB, SSA, 3-part, or SATB Choir with Piano

Another easy way to introduce some Latin-singing to your choir. This anthem includes a complete pronunciation guide and just a few Latin phrases to learn.

Love Came Down at Christmas 
Allen Pote
SAB Choir with Piano

One of my favorite Christmas texts, thoughtfully set with a new melody by Allen Pote for SAB Choir. 

Let Us Come 
Karen Marrolli
SAB Choir with Piano

A simple, lilting invitation to "come to the table of God and a good way to reinforce lyrical singing and phrase-shaping.

Tell the Story of Jesus 
arr. Lloyd Larson
SAB Choir with Piano and opt. Children’s Choir or Solo

A sweet setting of the classic old hymn, “I Love to Tell the Story” with new music by Lloyd Larson. Includes an optional part for children’s choir or child's solo at the beginning.

We Are Singing for the Lord is Our Light 
Hal Hopson
SAB Choir with Piano

A classic setting of this African hymn - rhythmic, but accessible. For an extra challenge, have your choir memorize it and sing it as a processional!

O Sacred, Wondrous Love 
Heather Sorenson
SAB or SSA Choir with Piano and opt. Cello

A captivating medley of two Lenten hymns: “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” and “What Wondrous Love Is This” with flowing piano accompaniment and lyrical cello obbligato.

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus 
Mark A. Miller
SAB Choir with Piano

I love this new musical setting of the traditional Advent text, composed by Mark Miller. A great opportunity to work on lightness and agility in the voice and reinforce singing larger intervals in tune.

One Bread, One Body 
arr. Lloyd Larson
SAB or SATB Choir with Piano

A very accessible setting of this communion hymn, especially if your choir is already familiar with the tune!

Go, Tell It on the Mountain
arr. Lloyd Larson
SAB or SATB Choir, a cappella

With swung eighth notes and a catchy bass ostinato, this laid back and slightly jazz setting of the Christmas favorite would be a fun way to end your Christmas program.

I Will Give Joyful Thanks
Douglas Nolan
SAB Choir with piano

Rhythmic, but repetitive, this anthem offers an opportunity to introduce mixed meter to your choir.

What are your favorite SAB anthems? I’d love to hear what you’ve done with your choir!