May 2, 2018

3 Songs to prepare your choir for the new liturgical year

3 Songs to prepare your choir for the new liturgical year

Advent and Christmas are busy seasons. Preparing for the coming of our Savior tends to keep us occupied, and often, a time of excitement and rejoicing becomes a time overshadowed by stress. So, when looking for new music for your choir this Advent and Christmas Season, look no further than the Choral Review Service.

Below are 3 songs and anthems from Choral Packet 90 that will motivate your choir and prepare them for the seasons of Advent and Christmas. They range in difficulty from easy to medium and vary in both style and language.

Angelus ad Pastores Ait
David Burks

Difficulty level: Medium
Voicing: SSAA, No Assembly
Instrumentation: a capella

The spirited anthem for SSAA voices is energetic and exciting. Set entirely in Latin, the English translation of the text is "The angel said to the shepherds: I bring you tidings of great joy / For unto you is born this day / The Savior of the world / Alleluia!"

Attention to the dynamics in this piece is important; the crescendos to the ends of the phrases, when done, make this piece electrifying. The harmony falls on the ear well, and the range is not too demanding, which is wonderful when you're working with women's voices that are still growing in technique and ability. Often, music for the treble voices has the altos set too low, but here the composer successfully keeps the second alto above an A and below an F#, giving them the range of a fifth. Also, the close harmonies add a pleasant agitation that makes this wonderful setting even more thrilling. Although this text is the second antiphon for Morning Prayer on Christmas Day, it is a great addition to lessons and carols services throughout the Season of Christmas.


Oh Ven, Oh Ven, Emmanuel/O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
arranged by Robert Kreutz

Difficulty level: Easy
Voicing: SATB, Descant, Bilingual
Instrumentation: Guitar, Keyboard, Solo

Perfect for bilingual services and celebrations during Advent, this setting of "Oh Ven, Oh Ven, Emmanuel/O Come, O Come Emmanuel" uses a harmonization familiar to those who worship with OCP's popular Spanish-language hymnal, Flor y Canto, or use the Spanish-language Misal del Día. Arranged by Robert Kreutz in the early 1990s, this presentation uses a simpler chord structure and a different cadential scheme than the mid-19th-century setting by Thomas Helmore — the setting with which most English-speaking congregations are familiar.

Kreutz's harmonization offers a fresh interpretation of the ancient Latin chant melody. English-speaking choirs will easily learn this new harmonization, however: it uses the exact same melody and sings comfortably, as it features more conjunct motion than the Helmore adaptation. A newly composed descant and solo instrument part by Scott Soper further expand the musical resources available for this title.


Ubi Caritas
David Hurd

Difficulty level: Medium
Voicing: SATB
Instrumentation: Organ

When an extended choral anthem is called for, the text of Ubi Caritas — that speaks of charity, love and the presence of God — is appropriate any time of the liturgical year. There are many wonderful choral anthems from which to choose, including settings by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986), Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943) and Ola Gjeilo (b. 1978). This setting by David Hurd is unlike any other. Excerpts from the Latin texts of Ubi Caritas and Agnus Dei are interwoven with a passage from Ephesians in this extended choral anthem focusing on themes of peace and unity. Hurd's melody of Ubi Caritas is original and is sung by each section of the choir at various times throughout. The Agnus Dei melody is the Mass XVIII Chant that is instantly identified and likewise, makes its way from section to section throughout. The middle section incorporates 15 measures of English text from Ephesians, hence the subtitle "He Is Our Peace". The most interesting element is when the melodies are swapped between the two Latin texts. The original Ubi Caritas melody eventually employs the Agnus Dei text, and vice versa. Over six minutes in length, this choral work is ideal for liturgies such as Ordinations, Chrism Mass, Dedication of a Church, or when an extended choral anthem is called for. Of medium difficulty, this unique setting of Ubi Caritas should be reachable by most skilled SATB choirs with adequate rehearsal time.


Explore more music from this season's edition


Hymn to Christ the King [Octavo]

Sarah Hart, Josh Blakesley, Sarah Kroger, Ike Ndolo

Download preview


Choral Review Service

These songs can be found in the Spring 2018 packet of the Choral Review Service. Offering music for traditional and contemporary choirs, children’s voices and intercultural ensembles, the Choral Review Service is the best way to find something new for your choir and community.

Learn more