anthems

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

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

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?

"Immortal Love, Forever Full" and 15 More Anthems for Holy Week

"Immortal Love, Forever Full" and 15 More Anthems for Holy Week

Holy Week is the week in between Palm Sunday and Easter. It’s the time in the church year when we remember the Last Supper, Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal, the denial, the crucifixion.

Some churches have several Holy Week services: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil. Others alternate between having a Maundy Thursday service one year and a Good Friday service the next. Still others have one combined Holy Week service that touches on all the events of the week: the Last Supper, Jesus praying in the Garden, and the Crucifixion.

Last year, I shared my service outline for a combined Holy Week service that incorporated music, art, and poetry. I used symbols to guide us through the events of the week: Light, Water, Table, Garden, Courtyard, Cross, Darkness. Download a copy for free here.

11 Modern Choral Hymn Settings for Christmas

11 Modern Choral Hymn Settings for Christmas

Fall is in the air (literally, here in Rochester). The nights are cool, the pumpkins and mums are out, and Fall cups are back at Starbucks.

This can mean only one thing: it’s time to start listening to Christmas music. Naturally.

Every year around this time, I spend some time browsing online music catalogs and listening to a variety of Advent and Christmas anthems: seeing what’s new, discovering old favorites, and looking for inspiration (you, too?). Not necessarily because I need to buy something; perhaps more out of curiosity. 

In my recent perusing, I was struck by the number of traditional hymns and carols I found that have been reimagined and creatively set in fresh, modern ways. So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you. I tried to include a variety of anthems in this list - most are SATB (some with divisi, others without), but there’s one SAB and one 2-part anthem in the mix, as well. Hope you find something you can use with your choir this year!

Whether you’re in the not-quite-done-with-my-Christmas-planning-yet camp or the I-could-use-a-little-seasonal-inspiration, I hope you enjoy listening to and browsing these modern hymn arrangements.

Music for Stewardship: 40+ Songs, Hymns, and Anthems

Music for Stewardship: 40+ Songs, Hymns, and Anthems

"Christian giving is a responsive act. It represents gratitude to God. It is a symbol of self-giving. Therefore, giving is not a once-for-all event, but a regular part of life. It is a spiritual discipline that reminds us who we are and whose we are.” - Herb Mather (source)

Stewardship is about taking care of the gifts God has given us. This includes managing our earthly possessions and monetary gains, but it also includes tending to the relationships we have and caring for the world around us.

Many churches spend some time during the fall months talking about stewardship. Centered around themes of gratitude and giving, stewardship is a time to talk about God’s abundant blessings and ways we can be good stewards of the gifts we’ve been given.

Stewardship often culminates in a Commitment Sunday or a time to make a pledge of time, gifts, and financial contributions to the work of the church.

It’s important that stewardship not just be about financial giving, but how we can give ourselves to God’s work, commit our lives to God’s service, and use God’s gifts to bless those around us.

2017 Reading Session Picks: Ensemble

2017 Reading Session Picks: Ensemble

When I have the opportunity to sit in on reading sessions, I’m keeping an eye out for any good anthem - whatever the voicing might be. If it has good text, is well-crafted musically and artistically, and is versatile enough to be used more than one Sunday out of the year, I make a note of it.

Everyone has their own rating system for this - some use a check-plus, check, check-minus system, others use smiley faces (with teeth, without teeth, indifferent, sad). To each their own, right?

Anyway, once I get back home with the anthems I saved, I divide them up into piles for easy list-making and cataloging later: Adult Choir, Youth, Children’s Choir, and Ensemble.

I’ve already shared my lists for adult choir and children’s choir; today, I’m sharing a few pieces I think would work well for an adult or youth ensemble. Enjoy!

2017 Reading Session Picks: Children's Choir

2017 Reading Session Picks: Children's Choir

Last week, I shared my top 12 reading session picks for adult choir; today, I'm sharing my favorites from this year’s Choristers' Guild reading session - lots of good music to consider for your choir this year!

Some of these anthems are new this year; others have been around for a while, but are worth considering, if you don't already have them in your library. I especially loved the ones that include optional rhythm or choir chime parts, as this is a great way to get more children involved and incorporate another dimension of music-making into your rehearsals.

Even if the anthem doesn't call for it, this is a relatively easy way to tailor a piece to your group and resources. Pull out part of the piano accompaniment (the bass line or perhaps the notes that fall on downbeats in the melody line) and add bells or chimes. Create a simple rhythmic ostinato pattern to accompany one of the verses, or give a few children triangles or finger cymbals to play during an interlude. Be creative!

2017 Reading Session Picks: Adult Choir

2017 Reading Session Picks: Adult Choir

Happy 4th of July week, friends!

I hate to break it to you, but did you know there are only 21 Sundays until the First Sunday of Advent?! I know. It’s true.

If you’re like me, summer is a time of rest and relaxation, but also a time of planning and getting ready for the new church/choir year. I just got back from a wonderful week in North Carolina for the United Methodist Fellowship’s Music and Worship Arts Week. It was a busy few days of worship, rehearsals, seminars, reading sessions, and concerts - so much new music and teaching ideas to soak up!

Eric Nelson was the clinician for the adult choir this year and I loved observing him in rehearsal, watching him conduct, and gleaning his wisdom. One thing he said that really resonated with me was this:

“Our congregations don’t need to be reminded about the brokenness in the world. Instead, we need to remind them, as much as possible, about the beauty and harmony that are possible in the community of Christ.”

I love that.

12 Easy Anthems for Your Summer Choir

12 Easy Anthems for Your Summer Choir

Summer is almost here! Time for watermelon and slow evenings on the patio, travel adventures and long, early morning walks, a slower pace and simpler Sunday morning services (we hope!).

For many of us, summer means a break from choir rehearsals; but that doesn’t mean they can’t sing during the summer months!

Spend your last rehearsal of the year prepping a few easy anthems to do throughout the summer, then meet for 30 minutes before each service to review parts and get warmed up. Do a pick-up choir once or twice a month, or put together an ensemble one week.

This is a great way to keep people connected during the summer months and a wonderful way for new people from your congregation to see what choir is like without making a year-long commitment.

Related post: The Case for the Summer Choir

I usually try to stick with anthems that are easy and accessible - not too challenging melodically or rhythmically and without a lot of divisi. You may even look at unison/2-part or SAB anthems. If you have a few capable singers that are available to sing one Sunday, pull an SSA or TTB piece and put together a ladies’ or mens’ trio. The possibilities are endless!

Looking for a few suggestions? Here are 12 of my favorite anthems for summer (in no particular order):

Worship Planning Theme: Music

Worship Planning Theme: Music

"I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music." - J. S. Bach

What a beautiful sentiment about what we do as church musicians.

There’s something different about sharing music in a worship context - it becomes something greater than ourselves, more than we could make it on our own. In a way, we become the instruments, ready to be used by God, for His glory: “Take my voice and let me sing - always, only for my King."

I’ve written a few posts like this one, with music and worship-planning resources on a specific theme or topic. Here are the links, in case you missed them:

Water
The Good Shepherd

Today’s theme is Music. I’m writing this post for myself, really, because we’re in the midst of planning a Music Sunday at our church for later this Spring - a day to celebrate God’s gift of music and bring together as many of the church’s musicians as we can to offer our praise and thanksgiving.

Worship Planning Theme: Water

Worship Planning Theme: Water

There are some themes and symbols that appear over and over again in scripture: creation, light, bread, water. And every few weeks, I seem to find myself planning around a certain theme and searching for worship planning inspiration:

“hymns about light”
“songs about water”
“ribbon banner for worship”

You, too? Okay, good. Based on my own planning for a service later this spring, I’m sharing my favorite stories, music, and worship planning ideas for services about water.

Water symbolizes baptism and rebirth, healing and renewal, creation and order from chaos. It ebbs and flows, waves and ripples: a living, moving thing. It sustains us and life on earth. It cleanses us and makes us new.