August 18, 2020

6 Songs to engage your choir during Advent and Christmas

6 Songs to engage your choir during Advent and Christmas

Discover new music for your choir from the Choral Review Service. With 25 songs of varying difficulty, instrumentation and style, you’ll discover breathtaking choral works from respected liturgical composers. Below are just a few examples of the music within the packet, plus a detailed description and insight on how to use each piece.

And Mary Said
Music by Larry Theiss, text adapted from Luke 1:41–42, 45–49

Difficulty level: Easy/Medium
Voicing: SSAA
Instrumentation: a cappella
Use: The Immaculate Conception, Season of Christmas, The Assumption of Mary

This flowing, unmetered work for a cappella women’s choir focuses on the first part of the Magnificat in a prayerful setting that is perfect for any occasion honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary, including the Christmas season, The Immaculate Conception, and The Assumption. The straightforward part-writing makes this an accessible and easily learned piece.

How Beautiful Is the Child!
Music and text by Carey Landry

Difficulty level: Easy/Medium
Voicing: SATB, Assembly
Instrumentation: Keyboard, Guitar
Use: Season of Christmas, Epiphany, Communion, Preparation of the Gifts

Though this setting for SATB choir, keyboard, guitar and assembly is not specifically intended for children as many of Landry’s pieces are, it is informed by a similar sensibility: with a tuneful diatonic melody, jaunty foursquare rhythm, regular phrase lengths, and straightforward choral writing, this song will appeal to singers of all ages. Its lyrics focus on not only on Jesus’s birth but also the coming of the Magi, so it can be sung throughout the Christmas season.

Lead Me in Your Truth
Music and text by Paule Freeburg, DC and Christopher Walker

Difficulty level: Easy/Medium
Voicing: SATB, Assembly
Instrumentation: Keyboard, Guitar, Solo Instrument in C, Cello
Use: Advent, Comfort, Longing for God, Love of God for Us, Truth

This steady and meditative setting based on Psalm 25 features a cantor-led melody for the assembly, supported in the refrain by an optional SATB choir. It is ideal for moments of reflection, commitment, or discernment (such as Evening Prayer during Advent and RCIA celebrations during Lent). Parts for solo instrument in C and cello are provided for greater musical depth and color.

O Heavens, Open from Above
Music by Colin Mawby, text by Genevieve Glen, OSB

Difficulty level: Easy/Medium
Voicing: SATB
Instrumentation: Keyboard
Use: Advent

This choral anthem for SATB choir with keyboard accompaniment focuses on the lyric themes of Advent: waiting, renewal, rebirth, and the anticipation of the coming justice of the Lord. The fluid harmonic scheme wonderfully accommodates Mawby’s sensitivity to Glen’s evocative text, as there is masterful word-painting (often with poignant chromaticism) throughout the work.

The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns
Music by Gerard Chiusano, text translated by John Brownlie (1859–1925), alt.

Difficulty level: Medium
Voicing: SATB, Descant
Instrumentation: Keyboard
Use: Advent, Christ the King

With a strong, original tune and a classic text, Chiusano has crafted a compelling addition to the choral Christmas repertoire. Scored for SATB choir with descant and keyboard accompaniment, this choral anthem is for use during Advent and can be sung as a call to worship, during the preparation of the gifts, or for a service of lessons and carols.

The Star of Morning
MMusic by Craig Kingsbury (TALISKER), text by Genevieve Glen, OSB

Difficulty level: Easy/Medium
Voicing: SATB, Descant, Assembly
Instrumentation: Keyboard
Use: Season of Christmas, Epiphany

This edition includes two different settings of Kingsbury’s original hymn tune, TALISKER, paired with Glen’s five-verse text: a through-composed concertato version for SATB choir and descant with organ accompaniment, and a simple strophic hymn version suitable for assembly participation. The F-minor melody has an interesting rhythmic profile, with a characteristic syncopation in the second and fourth measures.

Explore more music from this season's edition


Choir of Angels [Octavo]

Gregory Norbet, Kathryn Bunting Carrington

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Choral Review Service

These songs can be found in the 2020 Summer 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.

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