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September 24, 2018

3 Easter pieces for your choir


3 Songs to prepare your choir for the new liturgical year
 

This Easter season, 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 some of the most beloved 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.

To Serve Is to Reign
Christopher Willcock, SJ

Difficulty level: Easy
Voicing: Unison (SATB), Cantor
Instrumentation: Piano, Clarinet

Christopher Willcock, SJ, is certainly capable of writing beautiful, sophisticated and thought-provoking choral music. “To Serve Is to Reign” is indeed beautiful, sophisticated and thought-provoking, while also being simple and peaceful. It is primarily unison choral writing with one measure of SATB texture — one measure that could indeed be sung in unison, if needed. Written for an ordination — with text passages that relate to service and incorporate Ignatius of Loyola’s Prayer for Generosity — its usage is far beyond its original intent. A skilled cantor is ideal for three of the four verses (1, 2 and 4), while the choir sings verse three. The refrain, “Here am I among you as one who serves,” is easily sung by the gathered assembly. This piece is full of emotion, and when executed by an accomplished pianist, clarinetist and choir, this truly beautiful composition is exquisite. “To Serve Is to Reign” is appropriate for ordinations, Holy Thursday, or anytime the readings focus on Christian Life or being a servant of God.

 

Be Joyful, Mary, Heavenly Queen
Anthony Giamanco

Difficulty level: Easy/Medium
Voicing: SATB
Instrumentation: Organ or Piano

The Regina Caeli text, whether in Latin or English, is one that you can never have too many settings of. It embodies Easter, and the Easter Season is lengthy! Although “Be Joyful, Mary, Heavenly Queen” is a new composition, it has characteristics of pieces from former times. Like its title, it is indeed joyful! One of its many strengths is its accessibility. It sounds more difficult than it is; a quality often appreciated. And its length is also favored at one minute, 34 seconds in duration. The last four measures of each verse are consistent, both in music and in text: “Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, O Mary.” Verse one is primarily in unison, breaking into three-part writing for the final four bars. Verse two is scored for men’s voices, however, it adds the women for the final four recurring measures. Verse three introduces a four-part texture with optional keyboard that has been pared down, if used at all. For a greater effect, sing those first eight measures unaccompanied. The organ re-enters for the final returning four bars of the verse. A modulation from E-flat to F further brightens the sound with a more polyphonic choral style of writing on the final verse. It is cheerful and springy and an ideal motet for the Easter Season.

 

Are You Not Aware
Mary Van Houten

Difficulty level: Medium
Voicing: SATB, Soprano solo
Instrumentation: a cappella

This motet, set to the Romans 6 reading from the Easter Vigil, is the perfect selection for the Preparation of the Gifts following the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at the Vigil. Beginning with unison women, the men join to ask, “Are you not aware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” Mary Van Houten uses just the right amount of rhythmic and dynamic variety to make this piece quite appealing.

Published in the Trinitas octavo series, “Are You Not Aware” is rewarding for SATB choirs, but isn’t terribly demanding. Although learning and properly executing this a cappella motet requires rehearsal time, it’s well worth it. “Are You Not Aware” will add a powerful element to your celebration of the great Easter Vigil.

 

Explore more music from this season's edition

 

Choral Review Service

These songs can be found in the Fall 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.

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