Summer Music

Do your choirs take a break over the summer months? I know of several churches in which the choirs continue to sing all year round, but more frequently I hear of choirs being “off” for the summer. If this is the case for you, rather than viewing it as a loss, consider it an opportunity to branch out and incorporate a variety of other vocal and instrumental ensembles. Tap the home-grown musical talent in your church and community.

In addition to providing a different sound, offering a men’s or a women’s choir for one of the summer Sundays can serve as a recruitment tool for your mixed choir that sings during the rest of the year. Schedule one or two rehearsals, choose a psalm setting and/or a choral anthem, perhaps arrange a verse of one of the hymns for the day, and see what happens! Hopefully, you will get a mix of regular choir singers plus some new people who might like to give it a try and for whom the short-term commitment is very appealing. Be welcoming to new singers; keep the rehearsal positive and encouraging. You are planting seeds which may or may not take root and grow for the long term. That’s okay! You are providing a path for the Holy Spirit to move through your church in a new way.

Intergenerational music ensembles are another area for exploration. Maybe your women’s choir could instead be a treble choir (women, girls, and boys with unchanged voices).

Do you have any brass players? Think beyond the regulars that you tap for Easter Sunday—are there teenagers who play in their school band? Could you organize a group to play one Sunday, with the more experienced adult players mentoring the youth? Train these younger musicians to play hymns, leading the assembly’s song. It’s a win-win situation. Your congregation gets to have festive music on an ordinary green Sunday, and the instrumentalists get valuable experience playing for worship. Let the more experienced players do a bang-up prelude—line up some percussionists and do Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

Likewise, are there string or woodwind players available? Even the youngest Suzuki learner has appropriate music to offer. For more proficient players, could you pull together a string trio or quartet, a woodwind quintet, or even possibly a small chamber orchestra? If you have a few players, ask if they have musician friends who might like to commit to one summer Sunday. Music is an excellent entry point for people who are new to the church. Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Rhosymedre is a wonderful piece to do with strings; if you only have a couple of players, the organist could play the piece with the strings doubling on their parts.

Percussionists are often overlooked as soloists, but if you have a decent high school player, chances are he/she could borrow the school’s marimba and offer a fabulous prelude piece. You could also include the marimba on one or more hymns. This can be especially effective with Hispanic music.

If your church has handbells, gather a few people and have them play a quartet. There are plenty of arrangements available that do not require a full handbell choir. Include a pentatonic hymn and have the ringers do a random ring as accompaniment, or chant the psalm that Sunday with handbell chords as punctuation.

Summer is a good time to encourage duets, trios, and other small ensembles. Are there particular families with multiple musicians? Or groups within the congregation, such as a middle school or high school social group? Of course, there may also be people who would like to sing or play a solo. For instrumentalists, in addition to a solo, encourage them to play melody and/or descants along with the hymns. Your congregation will appreciate the enhancement to their song.

Summer will be here before you know it, so begin thinking, recruiting, and planning now!

avatar
Anne Krentz Organ

Anne Krentz Organ serves as the Director of Music Ministries at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, Illinois. She is also composer of many works of church music, particularly choral and piano. She has served as president of Region III of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.

Choral Music for Fall 2017 (Lectionary Year A)

[Editor’s note: While the summer sun is still high in the sky and Rally Day and the startup of choral seasons seem as though they are months away, you might want to carve out some time to begin to get organized for fall! Thanks to Anne Krentz Organ for writing these seasonal pointers, helpful whether you’re highly organized or running last-minute. Either way, we’re here to help with Prelude’s ever-growing resources. Blessings to you in your music ministries this summer and into the fall.]

If you are in the midst of celebrating the end of another stressful choir season by dropping all thoughts of it until the fall until suddenly it is breathing down your neck, bringing with it—yes, more stress? Then consider what follows to be both encouragement and help in getting a good chunk of your planning done for fall.

September 10 – 14th Sunday after Pentecost/Lectionary 23

Canons are a choir director’s friend! Minimal time and effort in teaching, yet the result is a full sounding anthem. Great way to ease into the choir season. This collection is a treasure trove of truly “flexible” anthems for year-round use.

September 17 – 15th Sunday after Pentecost/Lectionary 24

The gospel reading begins with Peter’s question to Jesus, “How often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus responds, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

Raabe’s anthem is primarily for 2-part mixed voices, with only two measures that expand to three or four voice parts. A quick learn at the beginning of the choir season.

September 24  – 16th Sunday after Pentecost/Lectionary 25

Scored for 3 voices, this canon works equally well for children’s choir (treble voices only) or youth choir (mixed voices.) The text is provided in both English and German.

October 1 – 17th Sunday after Pentecost/Lectionary 26

This “black gospel” anthem picks up on themes in both the psalm and the gospel reading. It is available in a variety of choir voicings: SATB, SAB, TTBB, SSA.

October 8 – 18th Sunday after Pentecost/Lectionary 27

An accessible communion anthem for a youth choir. Although scored for SATB, the arrangement makes considerable use of unison singing. The accompaniment includes some juicy jazz chords.

October 15 – 19th Sunday after Pentecost/Lectionary 28

A fun, Caribbean influenced choral setting of the 23rd Psalm (the appointed psalm for the day)

The second reading, Philippians 4:1-9, may be presented by the choir with this anthem. See notes in score regarding the additional speaking parts.

October 22 – 20th Sunday after Pentecost/Lectionary 29

St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, where I serve, celebrates the Lesser Festival of Luke, Evangelist, on a Sunday close to October 18. Since Luke was known as a physician and healer, we include the rite of healing. Hernandez’ canon may be introduced by the choir with the assembly joining in as they are comfortable.

There are 50 pieces in this collection which was developed in cooperation with Music that Makes Community, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to paperless song leading.

October 29 – 21st Sunday after Pentecost/Lectionary 30; Reformation Sunday

  • God Alone Be Praised – Zebulon Highben SATB, assembly, 2 trumpets, organ, PER CRUCEM; SAB, assembly, C or Bb instrument, piano AD LUCEM

Free download for members of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians on the ALCM website, www.alcm.org. Join today!

Highben has provided two musical treatments for choir and assembly of Susan Briehl’s poetic interpretation of Psalm 46.

 

November 5 – 22nd Sunday after Pentecost/Lectionary 31; All Saints Sunday

Don’t let the voicing scare you away from this gorgeous piece for All Saints Sunday. Even a modest SATB choir can pull it off with the accompaniment filling in the missing parts. It works well during communion on this day of remembrance.

This quiet, lovely setting of text from Romans 8 includes a descanting third part on the final stanza.

November 12 – 23rd Sunday after Pentecost/Lectionary 32

This anthem relates directly to the gospel reading from Matthew, “Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom . . .”

November 19 – 24th Sunday after Pentecost/Lectionary 33

The text of this anthem is appropriate for end times and Advent. “And we shall study war no more. Come, O people, and walk in the light of the Lord. The night is far spent, the day is at hand . . .”

November 26 – 25th Sunday after Pentecost/Lectionary 34; Christ the King
Sunday

Use the A section alone as a Gospel Acclamation, replacing the final words, “the mighty Lord” with “Alleluia.”

avatar
Anne Krentz Organ

Anne Krentz Organ serves as the Director of Music Ministries at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, Illinois. She is also composer of many works of church music, particularly choral and piano. She has served as president of Region III of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.

Planning for the Fall Choral Season

[Editor’s note: Rally Day and the startup of choral seasons is upon us, but there’s still time to get organized for fall! Thanks to Anne Krentz Organ for writing these seasonal pointers, helpful whether you’re highly organized or running last-minute. Either way, we’re here to help with Prelude’s ever-growing resources. Blessings to you in your music ministries this September.]

Are you one of those musicians who celebrates the end of another stressful choir season by dropping all thoughts of next year, until suddenly it is breathing down your neck, bringing with it—yes, more stress? Then consider what follows to be both encouragement and help in getting a good chunk of your planning done for fall.

Begin with who is going to sing when, scheduling the choir(s) for the upcoming season. Do you have more than one choir? If so, work out a schedule so you know which choir will be singing at which service on what Sunday. If there is only one choir, think about ways to divvy up the choir responsibilities.

  • Perhaps the choir women could take a particular Sunday and the men another. Be sure to invite all women/men singers in the congregation to sing in the choir for those respective Sundays. It could turn out to be an effective recruitment tool.
  • If there isn’t currently a children’s choir, perhaps the Sunday school children could be taught to sing a psalm refrain, a hymn verse, and/or an easy anthem and could lead worship for one Sunday.
  • An instrumental group, such as a handbell choir, flute choir, string or brass ensemble, or recorder consort could also function in the role of vocal leadership for psalms and hymns.

Once the choirs are scheduled, the natural next question is, what will they sing?

  • If your church follows the three-year lectionary, read through the lessons for the upcoming fall months. Certain stories or themes will stand out. If your worship is not lectionary based, work with your pastor(s) to try to ascertain some potential themes or scripture readings. This will give you a framework in which to plan.
  • Go through your church’s choral library to refresh your memory as to what is available. You may have forgotten about a piece that would be perfect for a particular group on a given Sunday.
  • Pull one copy of each piece that piques your interest or is even remotely possible. This will become the pool from which you will select your repertoire. If finances allow, you may also want to purchase a couple of new anthems to keep the repertoire interesting and fresh.
  • Keep in mind that SATB doesn’t only have to mean SATB – there are many ways to repurpose a piece for smaller forces. A girls’ youth choir could learn the soprano and alto parts of an SATB piece with the accompaniment covering the men’s parts.
  • Likewise, a children’s choir piece need not only be sung by children. If the text fits and it is a well crafted piece, a mixed choir can easily do it justice, especially if there is a descant or second vocal part.
  • Look for repertoire that covers a wide variety of styles and time periods.
  • Choose a couple of “challenge” pieces, making sure to allow enough rehearsal time in the schedule. The choir will rise to the occasion, will work hard and will feel proud of their success.
  • Choose a couple of easier pieces to give the choir a break while they are working so diligently on the “challenge” pieces.

Happy planning!

avatar
Anne Krentz Organ

Anne Krentz Organ serves as the Director of Music Ministries at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, Illinois. She is also composer of many works of church music, particularly choral and piano. She has served as president of Region III of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.

Planning Ahead for the Fall Choir Season

Are you one of those musicians who celebrates the end of another stressful choir season by dropping all thoughts of next year, until suddenly it is breathing down your neck, bringing with it—yes, more stress? Then consider what follows to be both encouragement and help in getting a good chunk of your planning done still this summer. You’ll be glad you did!

Begin with who is going to sing when, scheduling the choir(s) for the upcoming season. Do you have more than one choir? If so, work out a schedule so you know which choir will be singing at which service on what Sunday. If there is only one choir, think about ways to divvy up the choir responsibilities.

  • Perhaps the choir women could take a particular Sunday and the men another. Be sure to invite all women/men singers in the congregation to sing in the choir for those respective Sundays. It could turn out to be an effective recruitment tool.
  • If there isn’t currently a children’s choir, perhaps the Sunday school children could be taught to sing a psalm refrain, a hymn verse, and/or an easy anthem and could lead worship for one Sunday.
  • An instrumental group, such as a handbell choir, flute choir, string or brass ensemble, or recorder consort could also function in the role of vocal leadership for psalms and hymns.

Once the choirs are scheduled, the natural next question is, what will they sing?

  • If your church follows the three-year lectionary, read through the lessons for the upcoming fall months. Certain stories or themes will stand out. If your worship is not lectionary based, work with your pastor(s) to try to ascertain some potential themes or scripture readings. This will give you a framework in which to plan.
  • Go through your church’s choral library to refresh your memory as to what is available. You may have forgotten about a piece that would be perfect for a particular group on a given Sunday.
  • Pull one copy of each piece that piques your interest or is even remotely possible. This will become the pool from which you will select your repertoire. If finances allow, you may also want to purchase a couple of new anthems to keep the repertoire interesting and fresh.
  • Keep in mind that SATB doesn’t only have to mean SATB – there are many ways to repurpose a piece for smaller forces. A girls’ youth choir could learn the soprano and alto parts of an SATB piece with the accompaniment covering the men’s parts.
  • Likewise, a children’s choir piece need not only be sung by children. If the text fits and it is a well crafted piece, a mixed choir can easily do it justice, especially if there is a descant or second vocal part.
  • Look for repertoire that covers a wide variety of styles and time periods.
  • Choose a couple of “challenge” pieces, making sure to allow enough rehearsal time in the schedule. The choir will rise to the occasion, will work hard and will feel proud of their success.
  • Choose a couple of easier pieces to give the choir a break while they are working so diligently on the “challenge” pieces.

[Editor’s note: And keep an eye on this space for more news about the upcoming Prelude Music Planner, an online tool that will make your music planning a simpler and more enjoyable experience.]

Happy planning!

avatar
Anne Krentz Organ

Anne Krentz Organ serves as the Director of Music Ministries at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, Illinois. She is also composer of many works of church music, particularly choral and piano. She has served as president of Region III of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.