At Augsburg Fortress, we know what it is like to keep up with church musical ensembles in the holiday seasons. Many of us have served on a church staff as an organist or a choir director, and we know that making sure that all the music for liturgy is well written, well chosen, and well sung (to paraphrase Eric Routley!) is a big job even in a little parish.
As the part of the liturgical calendar featuring Sundays after Pentecost gives way to the November lectionaries, and with the dawn of a new church year just weeks away, we thought we might offer some last-minute choral music suggestions for choir directors who may open to one more possibility.
Keeping in mind that the liturgical New Year begins on December 3, 2023, here are a few hot-off-the-press possibilities specifically intended for the Advent season:
On a moving and mystic text by a noted children’s book author, Barbara Davis-Pyles, this stately anthem is a perfect piece for Advent One.
This famous choral piece from the St. Olaf tradition was originally composed in 1968. The tune TRURO is set in an energetic and uplifting way for an unaccompanied SATB choir … the music almost sings itself!
A poignant work based on a text and melody in All Creation Sings, the piece resonates with themes of patient contemplation as we await the Redeemer at Christmas.
Looking a little later in the winter calendar, we note that the fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve are on the same day!
On a celebrated text by William Blake, this gorgeous and lush setting features jazz-infused harmonies and evokes a dreamlike mood. “Sweet dreams, sleep, sleep happy child …”
A fresh and beautiful setting of a classic Luther text in translation, the music of this carol features fragments of the German chorale VOM HIMMEL HOCH.
A charming and easy-to-put-together setting of a Cuban Christmas carol. The text, in English or Spanish (or both!), encourages us to bring to the manger riches from our own lives, be they flowers, sugar, rich coffee, or other fruits of our homelands.
Lastly, if you make use of sung propers in your liturgical tradition and would like to sing something special to prepare the assembly to hear the gospel reading, we’ve just made the collection Gospel Acclamations for Advent through Transfiguration, by John Ferguson, available as a digital download. When you buy one copy, you have permission to reprint any portion of the edition as needed for local use.
We wish you the best for fall and holiday liturgies and events where you can join your ensembles in making music together. Please know how deeply meaningful and how very much appreciated your efforts are by those who hear you. Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas!