January 17, 2019

3 choral pieces for Ordinary Time

3 Songs to prepare your choir for the new liturgical year

Prepare for the long stretch of Ordinary Time with new music your choir will love. With 24 songs of varying difficulty, instrumentation and style, you'll discover breathtaking pieces from some of the most beloved liturgical composers. Below are just a few examples of the music found in the 2019 Spring choral packet, along with detailed tips on how to fully utilize each piece. Learn how you can subscribe to the Choral Review Service today!

Forth in the Peace of Christ We Go
Luke Rosen; text by James Quinn, SJ

Difficulty level: Easy/Medium
Voicing: SAB
Instrumentation: Keyboard, Guitar, Solo Instrument, 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones

I am always looking for new sending forth pieces that can be used for both Sunday liturgies, as well as more elaborate liturgies such as Rites of Election, Chrism Mass, ordinations and graduations. The text, by James Quinn, SJ, is superb. It is fitting as a recessional hymn throughout the entire liturgical year; in particular on Christ the King, and when the Scriptures center on Church, ministry and mission, and the Word of God. Gifted composer, pianist and conductor Luke Rosen originally wrote this in a large-scale setting for a rededication of a church; initially it contained an extended instrumental introduction.

The arrangement in this octavo has been scaled slightly to be more conducive to Sunday liturgy. The one-page introduction effectively sets the tone of what is to come; a joyful, triumphant, modal musical setting that feels dramatically ancient, yet refreshingly new. I appreciate the SAB arrangement, even if four-part choral writing is easily accessible. I find with strong hymns, such as this, having the sturdy, vigorous sound of the men in unison is very impressive! A soprano descant is offered on verse 5. No matter what instrumentation is employed (octavo includes parts for solo instrument, two trumpets and two trombones), "Forth in the Peace of Christ We Go" will inspire the faithful to confidently go out into the world with Christ to live in unity!

God Creating, God Sustaining
Michael Joncas

Difficulty level: Easy/Medium
Voicing: SAB
Instrumentation: Organ, Guitar

There's nothing like the ring of a strong hymn being roared by choir and congregation. It's an exhilarating sound that inspires the gathered. This newly composed hymn by Fr. Michael Joncas, WAYZATA, does just that! Its text, also written by Joncas, is Trinitarian. The beginning of each stanza is addressed to each of the Divine Persons, while the closing stanza is a Trinitarian doxology. It is melodically sturdy and grand. This octavo offers a concertato arrangement which adds to the grand feeling of this processional hymn. A more simple, straightforward unison hymn version is also included. Don't let the 5/4 meter and frequent meter changes scare you — it sings itself! Maintaining a strict walking tempo will allow the meter changes to feel natural and easily learned by the assembly. You may wish to sing this as a choral-only hymn (anthem) the first time, before introducing it to your congregation.

Lord, Let Me Love You More and More
Christopher Walker; text by James Quinn, SJ

Difficulty level: Medium
Voicing: SATB
Instrumentation: a cappella

After nearly 30 years of conducting, I continue to find myself in awe at the beauty of a choral sound. I never tire of hearing human voices create an atmosphere that transports me to another place. This moving choral motet, united beautifully with Quinn’s intimate hymn text, "Lord, Let Me Love You More and More," takes me to a peaceful, serene place. The hymn has four verses; this setting omits the last verse.

Beginning in close four-part choral writing, skilled eclectic British composer Christopher Walker creates a warm, intimate setting through a close minor triad that flourishes and grows throughout the first eight bars. I am partial to the use of unisons in choral music — effectively placed to add contrast and color. I also pursue texts with the inclusion of Mary, given my position at Saint Mary's Cathedral. The third verse asks the Lord to teach us to love as Mary loved, who shared the agony of her son. This composition employs harmonic variety and interest throughout. It is the ideal length, approximately three minutes, for use after Communion at any liturgy, but in particular at moments of personal devotion, such as Lent, as well as feasts which celebrate the Mother of God. Advanced choirs will find "Lord, Let Me Love You More and More" approachable and rewarding. Even so, it is essential to properly rehearse the piece for optimal interpretation. Once learned, this choral gem will add to the beauty of any liturgy.

Explore more music from this season's edition


Unidos [Octavo]

Santiago Fernández, Jesse Manibusan

Download preview


Church of Justice [Octavo]

Ben Walther, ValLimar Jansen, Sarah Kroger, Greg Walton, Ken Canedo, Robert Feduccia, Ted Miles

Download preview


Choral Review Service

These songs can be found in the 2019 Spring packet from 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
Angela Westhoff-Johnson

In addition to her role as Managing Music Editor at OCP, Angela Westhoff-Johnson has been the director of music at St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland for more than 21 years. There she conducts the cathedral choir, cathedral contemporary ensemble and the cathedral children’s choir, all of which provide music for weekly Sunday Eucharist as well as archdiocesan liturgies. She is also an active performer, conductor and workshop presenter.

Learn more