Archive for the 'Sacred Music' Category

Making Connections & Creating Community In an Overscheduled World

Guest post by Susan Eernisse, Children’s Music Editor for Jubilate Music Group

One of the things we as children’s choir directors deal with is the competition for a spot on the weekly family schedule. I believe there are some fantastic things going on every week in our choir rooms, yet how do we get the word out to families? And how do we get children there – and keep them coming back week after week?

I believe that making connections with the parents as well as the children is key. Here are a few things I have tried with some success.  

  1. Advertise choir through all ministries of the church – music ministry, children’s ministry, even senior adult ministry – often grandparents are the ones tasked with transporting the children. 
  2. Make regular contact: send weekly emails to the parents telling the important things happening in choir that week; provide a calendar with key dates before the beginning of each semester; follow up on absentees – first with a text or email to the parents, and then with a handwritten note to the child. It is amazing how appreciative parents are when you notice their child is missing from rehearsals! 
  3. Send purposeful greetings. Birthday cards are always a great touch. Send thank you notes, get-well cards, holiday cards – address them to the child, but the parents will notice and appreciate your time and attention. Last year I sent Thanksgiving cards to the children timed to arrive during the holiday break. I included a hymn story for the children to share with their families and tucked in a card listing all the remaining choir dates through December.        
  4. Involve children in worship leading in addition to singing in the choir. Children can pray, collect the offering, light candles, read scripture, and even serve on your worship team on occasion. Budding instrumentalists can play preludes or offertories. 
  5. Offer elective/auxiliary groups for your early arrivers. We began a handchime choir for our older children that meets between our family night supper and choir time because we noticed many finished eating quickly and had nothing to do until choir time. Consider Orff ensembles, drama groups, percussion ensembles – even bucket drumming!
  6. Create a social media page for your choir.  We have a separate page that is connected to our church account. You can make the page private to allay parent’s privacy concerns. Post video snippets of rehearsals, photos of activities and announcements regarding performances and special events. Enlist some parent volunteers to “market” your group, or have a rotation of parent helpers to attend choir, take pictures, write cards to absentees, etc. 
  7. Involve families in music making. Enlist parents or older siblings to play instrument parts, sing harmony parts, read narrations, or add percussion instruments. Think of your choir as a family activity, not just something else to fill the children’s weekly calendar. 
  8. Plan public performances each year. As an outreach of your children’s choir program, explore offering programs for service clubs, senior living facilities, non-profit agencies, and more. Even musicals can be mobile events if you plan with simple sets and portable props.

As your choir begins to transform from choral group to more of a family, consider the new musical, Family Tree by Ellen Woods Bryce from Jubilate Music Group.

It has simple casting, easy set, and important themes of concern for children and families in today’s world: how to become part of God’s Family Tree, communication, adoption, divorce, and forgiveness.  It teaches important lessons not only for children, but for their parents as well. As is so often the case, music is a means of ministry to and through the children you faithfully serve week after week.

Susan Eernisse is Children’s Music Editor for Jubilate Music Group. She serves as Associate Music Minister and Director of the Performing Arts Academy for First Baptist Church Gainesille (GA).  She is also a published writer.  

StreamSing: A Free Virtual Reading Session with Jubilate Music Group

As our Annual Choral Sale continues, we’d like to highlight a fantastic opportunity to explore new music for Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas .

Join host Mark Cabaniss, President & CEO of Jubilate Music Group, as special guest Mary McDonald shares thoughts on her featured pieces plus the upcoming fall/Christmas singing season.

In this approximately hour-long express session, Mark previews new music from Jubilate Music Group for Thanksgiving, Advent & Christmas from Mary McDonald, Lloyd Larson, Mark Hayes, Hal Hopson, and more.

Here are just a few of the titles featured in StreamSing:

Emerging from Our Caves

Guest post by composer Robert Sterling

I’ve often said that if I were to compare myself to an animal it would be a bear. A Grizzly, to be more specific. Grizzlies eat half the year and sleep the remaining half. And they spend a lot of time in a cave. They are okay being alone. That describes the life of the composer/arranger in a lot of ways, actually.

I work in a cave – a very nice cave, mind you. I have high-speed internet, quality studio gear, central heat & air, and a bathroom and kitchen very nearby. But it’s still essentially a cave. And when I’m not working, all too often I am either eating or sleeping. Oh, and I growl a lot, but that’s more about my personality. All in all, I’m okay in my cave.

But for the past eighteen months or so, the whole world has been in a cave, isolated from our fellow bears (I mean human beings) except for Netflix, Prime Video, and Zoom. That is not normal for the vast majority of people. Now, we are slowly emerging to see if the world outside has changed much, and if so, how.

Continue reading ‘Emerging from Our Caves’

Restore Our Song: A Homecoming

Guest post by composers Lee & Susan Dengler introducing Restore Our Song: A Resource for Restarting Your Choir, which includes an opening “kick-off” fellowship and service, devotions on the themes of deliverance and renewal, easy anthem suggestions to get the choir back in shape quickly, service ideas including a hymn sing, recruitment tips, a simple chorus for choir and congregation titled “Restore Our Song,” and more.

Finally, they were on their way!  After years of exile in Babylon, God’s people were returning to Judah.  Though some had decided to remain in Babylon, a contingent, led by the priest and scribe, Ezra, began the journey home.  To them, Babylon was still a land where they simply could not sing the Lord’s song, even when coaxed by their captors.  All they had been able to do was to hang their harps, the instruments that had once accompanied their voices, on the willow trees that stood guard by the river.  The drooping branches of the trees had served as a visual reminder of their own weeping. 

And then, they were home in their beloved native land!  In the second chapter of the book of Ezra, we find the listing of folks who returned to Jerusalem and other Judean towns. There were the priests, the temple servants, the gatekeepers of the temple.  And, there were the singers!

As the foundations of the new temple were laid, the singers began their song, as they praised and gave thanks to the Lord.  For those who listened, there was a mixture of emotions.  While some shouted for joy, others, who had remembered the former temple and all they had endured, wept with a loud voice.  It was hard to distinguish the shouts of joy from the noise of their crying.  Nevertheless, the combined sound of joyous shouts, sorrowful weeping and glorious singing could be heard for miles around.

We have thought about these people many times during the months of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially after we learned that singing in groups had the ability to spread the virus more virulently than almost anything else.  How could we sing the Lord’s song in such a land?  But now, it seems that we too are on our way home.  Almost daily, we learn of positive indicators that tell us that choirs can safely return to in-person, close-up, full-choir singing.  Thanks be to God!  This is the news for which we have been waiting over these past, long months!

Continue reading ‘Restore Our Song: A Homecoming’

Wounded Alleluias

Guest post by Joseph M. Martin, Composer and Director of Sacred Publications for Shawnee Press

The quest to combine ministry with artistry has been a lifelong calling for me.  I have always found my place and purpose in this pursuit.  Composing animates me and breathes into my spirit an inner peace that is deeply sacred.

Reassuring rituals are part of my writing process—simple disciplines made special by repetition, reminding me to be grateful for the labor to which I have been called. With faithful regularity the process unfolds over and over, familiar yet surprising, comfortable yet challenging.

Continue reading ‘Wounded Alleluias’

StreamSing: A Free Virtual Reading Session with Jubilate Music Group

As our annual Sacred Choral Sale continues, we’d like to highlight a fantastic opportunity to explore new music for spring and Easter.

Join host Mark Cabaniss, President & CEO of Jubilate Music Group, and his special guest, composer Lloyd Larson, for StreamSing, a free virtual reading session.

In this approximately hour-long express session, Mark and Lloyd tell stories, look ahead to our future opportunities for ministry and community as church singers, and preview new music perfect for distanced, streaming and virtual choirs from Mary McDonald, Lloyd Larson, Tom Fettke and more.

Here are just a few of the titles featured in StreamSing:

Continue reading ‘StreamSing: A Free Virtual Reading Session with Jubilate Music Group’

Let’s Begin to Ring Again! Hope Publishing Handbell Choir Selections: Fall 2020

A message from Brenda E. Austin, Handbell Editor at Hope Publishing

Hello friends!

Brenda E. Austin

Have you noticed how grumpy many people are today? I sure have. I believe with all of my heart, that is in part because no one has been to the symphony, seen a broadway show, sang in their church choir or rang in a handbell festival in months and months. Our souls are crying out to be part of a musical experience again.

There are so many challenges facing us today. We need to keep the safety of our communities as our top priority. With that being said, I believe that we also need to consider our spiritual and emotional health as well. Where and when it is possible to do so safely, let’s begin to ring again. It may look different from what we “normally” do. But, what would it look like to ring today? Ringers wearing masks, each ringer at their own table or music stand at a safe distance from one another, no shared equipment. Perhaps ringing outside?? What are the possibilities?

Wishing you well!

Ring with 6: Year-Round

Arr. Martha Lynn Thompson

Martha Lynn Thompson adds another set of six settings to her highly successful series of Ring with 6 collections. Each arrangement uses 14-22 bells and is easily playable by six ringers. Three pieces have optional handchimes. A “Bells Used Chart” for each piece provides suggested assignments. No four-in-hand ringing is required but, because some ringers have more than two bells, it is necessary to have a table or a place to put the additional bells. Three of the hymns are suitable for general occasions, one is appropriate for either Palm Sunday or Advent, and rounding out the collection is Natalie Sleeth’s beautiful “Were You There on That Christmas Night?”

Continue reading ‘Let’s Begin to Ring Again! Hope Publishing Handbell Choir Selections: Fall 2020′

Helping Singers Learn at Home! Hope Publishing Choral Selections with Rehearsal Tracks: Fall 2020

A message from Joel Raney, Composer & Choral Editor at Hope Publishing

Joel Raney
Joel Raney

I know that these days many of us are searching for ways to keep our singers engaged without gathering. Here we feature several of our most popular titles that have part-dominant rehearsal tracks available for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, as well as stereo accompaniment tracks. Whether you’re doing a virtual choir or some sort of limited socially distant singing, these tools are a terrific way to help singers learn new music at home on their own.

Stay strong and safe!

In Christ Alone with Cornerstone

Arr. Joel Raney
SATB Octavo
Instrumental Parts
Performance/Accompaniment CD
Voice-Dominant CD

Listen & follow along with the score

Originally, this appeared in Joel Raney and Lloyd Larson’s best-selling Lenten cantata, Hope in the Shadows. This medley pairs the popular Keith Getty song with the praise chorus “Cornerstone” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

Continue reading ‘Helping Singers Learn at Home! Hope Publishing Choral Selections with Rehearsal Tracks: Fall 2020’

Prelude, Postlude and All That’s In Between: A Guide for the Church Pianist

Patti Drennan is an active composer and arranger with almost 700 piano books, piano/vocal books and choral octavos published with major publishers.

As a former 28-year high school choral director and then Director of Worship/Music Arts Director for almost 10 years, I have been seated at the piano creating music in so many venues. (Once a musician, always a musician, right?) In both the secular and sacred arenas, the pianist is often the glue that holds together a concert, worship service, wedding or memorial service. This is also the case when accompanying a soloist or small group. Because all music is not usually performed a cappella, a confident, quick-thinking accompanist must be ready to sense the soloist’s tempo and dynamics, phrasing and places for breathing, and the dreaded skipped-the-repeat-and-now-on-the-next-page moment! Fast thinking is a must for the church pianist and the goal is to play beautifully, giving not a hint of the soloist’s “mis-fire” to the congregation! When I was serving on staff, one of my duties as Director of Music was to create a meaningful worship service with inspiring scriptures, hymns, anthems (often two), prelude and postlude, and timing it all to when the pastor returned from a contemporary service a half-block away in another building. There were often times when he had yet to arrive and I needed to walk to the piano and extemporaneously play reflective music under a guided prayer time. For those who do not play by ear, this would be an important moment to have a secondary hymn or piano book in reach to provide that quiet music. Continue reading ‘Prelude, Postlude and All That’s In Between: A Guide for the Church Pianist’

Lorenz: Keeping Worship Fresh with New Music

LorenzLogo2020Publishing over 1,000 new works every year, Lorenz offers an extensive catalog of choral, keyboard, and instrumental music to support the ministry of churches large and small. From traditional and liturgical to blended and contemporary, music for many styles of worship can be found across its imprints: Lorenz Publishing Company, Medallion Music, and The Sacred Music Press. Having been at the forefront of new church music for over a century, Lorenz is home to best-selling titles written by the most prominent names in church music today, and is committed to supporting the creative work of future generations of composers and arrangers.

O sing to the Lord a new song; for he has done marvelous things. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the Earth. (Psalm 98:1, 4 NRSV)

BryanSharpeLorenzThe Psalms tell us to sing new songs to the Lord. This biblical mandate inspires how we use our gifts. We compose, arrange, edit, and publish new music so that churches and individuals have the resources they need to praise the Lord with instruments and voices. As times change and fads come and go, and as one generation passes to the next, we will always need new music to keep our worship current and relevant.

Bryan Sharpe
Director of Church Choral Publications, Lorenz

Continue reading ‘Lorenz: Keeping Worship Fresh with New Music’


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