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Christmas by instrumentation: with string quartet

Thank you for all of your ideas on pieces to do with a church choir and
string quartet for Christmas Eve Mass. Here are the suggestions:

1.) Look into the Moravian literature.
2.) How about one of the Marc-Antoine Charpentier Christmas cantatas or his
Midnight Mass for Christmas (Messe de Minuit) published by Concordia? They
are all lovely, especially if your string players can play lightly.
3.) For a Caholic church, if they're not afraid of hearing mass movements,
is always plenty of Mozart/Haydn. There's also R. Vaughan Williams Fantasia
on Christmas Carols, which is essentially a string texture. May need some
editing to get it down to a quartet, but between quartet and organ, the
piece would e very effective. MANY anthems have accompaniments which would
be more effective with strings than with kbd, or with strings and organ
"continuo." Look through your library. I'll bet you find some of these.
Then set about scoring them up. Also Gustav Holst: Christmas Day. Jolly.
Good fun for the choir, workable with strings, though you may need to do your
own quartet score.
4.) If I had a pro string quartet I would arrange two favorite choral
anthems, "Love Came Down at CHristmas" by Leo Sowerby, and "Cradle Song" by
David Hurd. Lush writing for organ strings would translate well to a string
Q, ---not too hard a task esp. with music wrting software.
5.) I have performed Britten's "St. Nicholas" with a string quartet,
organ and piano 4 hands. Works great. (required children's chorus).
6.) I have a new work designed for Christmas Eve for chorus, soloists,
narrator, string quartet, and congregation. It tells the Christmas story and
involves the congregation in singing familiar carols -- all integrated into
an entire cantata-like setting. I did it with my church this past Christmas
Eve and it was very effective. It is available at my publisher - or
you can call them at (425) 747-4156. The choral work is simple and the solo
work designed for good choir voices.
7.) Our choir did a Pergolesi Magnificat in 1997 with string quartet, and
added with the quartet: Michael Larkin - A Spotless Rose, John Rutter - What
Sweeter Music.

on August 18, 2002 10:00pm
To add to the last posting about Moravian literature, one of the most beloved of all Christmas anthems, with strings, is "Thou Child Divine" by Johann Abraham Peter Schulz. A couple other suggestions "Hail Infant Newborn" by David Mortiz Michael, "Sing o Ye heavens" by Johann Friederich Peter and "Shout ye heavens" by John Antes.

Fred Irwin
Director of Choirs, Nassau College, Garden City, NY
Director of Music, First Presbyterian Church, Cranford, NJ