Posts Tagged 'church music'

Come Back Bigger and Better!

The Top 5 Reasons to Do a Christmas Cantata This Year

By Mark Cabaniss

There’s no question the pandemic changed church choirs.  At least for now.  Maybe forever?  Well, perhaps that’s up to you and us all.  This blog post makes a case to find a way to do a cantata (or musical) this year.  Even if your performing forces aren’t back up to pre-pandemic levels yet.

1. The Event Factor. Since cantatas aren’t performed on a regular basis, whenever they are performed, they’re an event. And events generally bring out more people to see them than a regular worship service (if they’re promoted correctly). They can build excitement and a real positive “buzz” in a church and community.  And nothing says “We’re back!” more than a cantata.

2. Growth. Cantatas offer the opportunity for choirs (and individuals) to grow in a number of ways: musically, numerically, and spiritually. They occasionally attract non-choir members who want to “try out” the choir on a short-term basis (and sometimes, those people become regular choir members). 

3. Bonding. An event tends to “rally” a choir and focus its rehearsals for the period leading up to the presentation. If there are a few extra (“bonus” as I call them) rehearsals to pull the work together, those offer an opportunity for greater bonding between director and choir and among choir members. If there’s a church-wide fellowship or reception following the presentation those events can promote even more bonding and unity among the choir and entire church. 

4. Attract more men and younger members. There’s no question that, in general, many choirs today are lacking in men and younger members. Cantatas often require men to participate in speaking roles (Jesus, the disciples) and with a little creative and gentle arm-twisting, the resourceful director can use a musical to recruit new men to the choir. 

5. Memories. Ask any church or choir member what anthem they sang on a particular Sunday a year ago and they’re likely to scratch their head and draw a blank. But ask them what musical they did when they were in high school, college, or last year in the adult choir and they’ll likely rattle off the title immediately. I’m not saying the weekly anthem isn’t the choir’s bread and butter, but this is further evidence cantatas are worth it. 

Not enough people in your choir to pull one off?  Join forces with a neighboring church(es).  Suddenly, your group has doubled in size. The camaraderie that is developed (and opportunity to perform the work not once by twice at each participating church) is priceless, and unforgettable.  Jubilate Music Group has several easy cantatas that are perfect for smaller and “coming back” choirs, such as There’s a Song in the Air and How Great Our Joy! both by Stan Pethel.  Also, The Gift by Lloyd Larson.

Bottom line: Cantatas – when carefully chosen, prepared, and performed – can create a lasting (and sometimes life-changing) impact on those who experience them.  

Mark Cabaniss is a music publisher, producer, writer, and educator. He is President/CEO of Jubilate Music Group, based in Nashville, Tennessee. www.markcabaniss.com

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’

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’

Publisher Focus: Jubilate Music Group

Guest post by Morgan Roberts, Director of Production, Sales & Marketing for Jubilate Music Group

Jubilate Music Group is the culmination of many years of various developments in the lives of several individuals and the music print industry. These developments led to the consolidation of three separate and distinct music publishing catalogs, each with its own individual history: Alfred Sacred, Jubilate Music, and H.W. Gray. The result is Jubilate Music Group, an eclectic stylistic blend of sacred and secular choral, vocal, handbell, and instrumental publications for adults and children.

Alfred Sacred – Jubilate Music – H.W. Gray

As a result of the consolidation and acquisitions described in this blog, Jubilate Music Group also contains the sacred compositions from the historic Belwin-Mills and Gordon V. Thompson catalogs plus the entire Brodt Music Publications and Good Life Publications catalogs. From Handel, Hopson, and Hayes to Puccini, Penderecki, and Purifoy…Jubilate Music Group catalogs contain a combined 150+ years of rich music publishing history. When considered retrospectively, the changes and developments that came together to ultimately create Jubilate Music Group make its birth true to the meaning of its name:

“A song of joy and triumph”

Continue reading ‘Publisher Focus: Jubilate Music Group’

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’

Mark Hayes: Perfect Postludes

The postlude following a service makes creation resound with praise and allows the congregation to leave the church proclaiming God’s greatness. As the signal for the congregation to disperse, it should be a stirring exclamation point to the service that connects the worship experience to the secular world to which the crowd of people is about to return.

PerfectPostludesWhat makes a perfect postlude? Mark Hayes answers this question with his new collection, Perfect Postludes: Hymns and Spirituals to Close the Service, which contains the following ten selections:

  • Jesus Shall Reign
  • I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing
  • Joyful Day
  • Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
  • O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
  • I Want Jesus to Walk with Me
  • To God Be the Glory
  • Noble March
  • Lead On, O King Eternal
  • They’ll Know We Are Christians

Here Hayes himself describes his collection and what makes it so useful for today’s church pianist: Continue reading ‘Mark Hayes: Perfect Postludes’


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