Lessons and Carols

How to Write Your Own Choir Christmas Program

How to Write Your Own Choir Christmas Program

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a music director asking for ideas and suggestions for a Christmas program for her small adult church choir. 

I had already planned to write this post sometime later this month, so I thought I'd share my thoughts and ideas now, in case some of you have the same questions. 

Also, I'm using this post to kick-off a mini "Christmas in August" series, so grab a cup of hot chocolate (or iced mocha) and enjoy!

The first step in planning a Christmas program, I think, is choosing a format. What kind of Christmas program will this be? What resources are available to you? Who will participate? 

Here are three formats you might consider:

The Music of Christmas

This week always seems to catch me by surprise. I mean, I know it’s coming. I’ve been planning for Christmas since July. And yet, here it is with its three service bulletins, special music, last-minute meetings, extra rehearsals, and the like. Yes, it’s a busy time but what a privilege it is to share music in worship! I am thankful for a semi-light work week: only two private lessons, one afternoon of juries instead of two class periods, a short break from children’s choir, and time to practice and prepare for two final choir rehearsals. Yesterday, I realized just how much music I wrote into the services this weekend and it felt a little like “The Twelve Days of Christmas:”

- One organ solo - Two choir anthems - Two ensemble anthems (I get to sing!) - Three pieces of special music to accompany (flute, saxophone, and voice) - Four pieces of service music - Four piano solos - Six hymn harmonizations - Eight Christmas hymns - Ten new organ registrations - __ hours of practicing (do I want to count?)

A few weeks ago, Steve and I attended the Lessons and Carols service at Marsh Chapel at Boston University. Gosh, I love Lessons and Carols. The service was a beautiful reflection of this sacred season and the musical selections were gorgeous (and quite unique – Arvo Pärt, anyone?). Led by an exceptional conductor, Scott Allen Jarrett, the Marsh Chapel Choir was an inspiration. I came home determined to dig up a copy of David Willcocks’ carol arrangements (and what do you know, I found two volumes!) I love adding fresh harmonies to those traditional favorites of the season.

As crazy as the preparations can be are, I love being a part of the rejoicing, the reliving, the retelling of Jesus’ birth. I love hearing the whole story from beginning to end. I love hearing the congregation sing their favorite hymns. I love seeing the Sanctuary grow dark around me and then see the light return as the candles are lit. I love sharing the message of Christmas through song. I love the reminder that God is the Alpha and Omega, the victory in my life, evermore and evermore.

Image Credit: Lauren Chester