This fine collection from Olivia Cresswell provides five musical offerings to use throughout the holiday season. Each setting prominently features the tune, and each lies well under the hands. Preview pages from the score and listen to sample recordings here.
Looking for some new additions to your Christmas choir repertoire? Consider these pieces:
It’s never too early for musicians to begin thinking about the holiday season. Read Timothy Shaw’s article on Prelude Music Planner, Christmas in July: Piano/Organ Repertoire for Advent/Christmas. This includes suggestions of 10 different collections, as well as links to free downloads of some classical pieces (through IMSLP).
Beckenhorst has published Timothy Shaw’s SATB anthem, “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” (for Advent, Christmas, or General use), which received an Editors’ Choice Award designation from JW Pepper. You can view sample pages and listen to an excellent demo recording here. The piece is described this way:
A strong musical and textual statement, useful for any occasion of worship all year but especially powerful on Christmas morning. Scored for SATB choir and piano, this new setting of a time-honored hymn of praise is accessible to most church choirs.
Concordia Publishing House has released volume 11 of the 12-volume series Hymn Prelude Library (based on Lutheran Service Book), containing hymn tunes that begin with ‘T’, ‘U’, and ‘V’. This volume includes Timothy Shaw’s setting of the tune “Union City” (“If Christ Had Not Been Raised from Death“), by Phillip Magness (Cantor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Broken Arrow, OK and composer with Liturgy Solutions). Other contributors to this volume (edited by Kevin Hildebrand) include Charles Callahan, Benjamin M. Culli, and Kristina Langlois. You may pre-order the book now, and it will be available on June 30, 2017.
Choosing repertoire for church choirs is one of the most difficult, time-consuming tasks of all choir directors, whether they direct larger or smaller choirs. There are some unique challenges facing those who direct smaller choirs, though. To support you in your work, Timothy Shaw has written a blog post on the topic (with 25 anthem suggestions) on Prelude Music Planner. Check it out here.
Augsburg Fortress has released Timothy Shaw’s book of hymn arrangements for piano, Hymn Settings for the Year: 55 Piano Gems. This book contains all the pieces he wrote in his 52 in 52 series. Here is a description from the publisher: “This collection of hymn settings in diverse forms and styles will serve you well throughout the church year. Some of these pieces may be used as preludes or postludes, while others may be used as hymn introductions and alternate accompaniments. Teachers who want to introduce hymn settings to students will find this a valuable teaching tool. This is also a great resource for funeral service music.”
Concordia Publishing House has released volume 9 of the 12-volume series Hymn Prelude Library (based on Lutheran Service Book), containing hymn tunes that begin with ‘P’, ‘Q’, and ‘R’. This volume includes Timothy Shaw’s setting of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” (PRECIOUS LORD), written by Thomas A. Dorsey (“The Father of Black Gospel Music”) during a period of great suffering and loss. Other contributors to this volume (edited by Kevin Hildebrand) include James Biery, Charles Callahan, and Wayne Wold. You may pre-order the book now, and it will be available on June 30, 2016.
Many composers have written choral settings of the Nunc Dimittis, and one of the most hauntingly beautiful is by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (listen to it on YouTube). This canticle of the Christmas season was sung by Simeon, as a blessing on the infant Jesus, and it is recorded in Luke 2:29-32. During this season of Advent, as you wait on the Lord and hope in his promises, consider the circumstances that produced this stirring song.
Waiting is never easy, for children and adults alike. Children (and some adults, too) find it difficult to wait for Christmas morning to arrive, while adults (and some children, too) find it difficult to wait in line at the stores or on the roads. No one really likes to wait, which makes the story of Simeon all the more meaningful. When Jesus was eight days old, Joseph and Mary brought him to the temple so purification rites could be performed, according to the Law. And the Holy Spirt caused Simeon to be there at just the right time. Who was Simeon? He was an old man, a patient man who knew what it means to wait on the Lord. God had promised Simeon that he would live to see the Lord in the flesh. So for many years Simeon waited to see Jesus, until finally, at the end of his life, he did. He held Jesus, and he worshiped the Lord. His blessing on the child is an expression of thanksgiving for God’s gift of salvation, offered to all nations of the world. His words were so profound that Mary and Joseph were astounded. Simeon blessed them, too, helping them to understand, at least in some small measure, the gravity of what was taking place. Simeon was a man of patience, yes, but he was also a man of peace. He begins his blessing by saying, essentially, “Now I can die in peace.” What enables someone to face death so quietly, with such serenity? Faith in the Child. To all who patiently wait for his coming, to all who put their trust in him, the Lord offers blessing beyond measure. Truly, this is good news! (adapted from Behold He Comes: Advent Reflections)
Choral Settings of the Nunc Dimittis
Nunc Dimittis, A. Pärt | Difficult (SATB, a cappella)
Nunc Dimittis, F. Mendelssohn | Moderate (SATB, a cappella)
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, R. Vaughan Williams | Easy (SATB, organ/piano)
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, T. Shaw | Easy (SA/TB, soloists, piano)
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