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Choral Evensong quick study

We are planning a Choir Reunion culminating in a full-blown Choral Evensong.   Suggestions for the Preces & Responses, Canticles, and an uplifting anthem for Sunday, 24 April are solicited. The «core» choir is SSAATTBB and it is problematical at this planning stage how many and what parts will show up for the reunion so erring on the «easy» side is probably best but this will be part of our year-long sesquicentennial celebrations so we would like it to be as «special» as possible. In addition to the singers, we have a fine Casavant organ in a gorgeous Parish Church acoustic and access to a Brass Choir and Tympani.  
Reopertoire suggestions should, please, be FINDABLE. We have a decent library but more and more of this repertoire is «out of print» and impossible to obtain.
Replies (15): Threaded | Chronological
on January 22, 2016 3:14am
If you'd like a new set of Responses, these should be quite enjoyable (SATB):
on January 22, 2016 8:25am
Hello Freeman,
What a lovely program you will be having in April.
I would recommend my piece "One Thing Have I Desired" (satb, acappella, Psalm 27:4) which would be fabulous in a great acoustic environment.
It is available for purchase (with full perusal score) here:
I would also recommend my piece "We're Going Home" which was written with piano accompaniment, but would be lovely with organ. This is a grand and thrilling piece that could be a highlight spiritual moment in such a service.
It is available for purchase (with full perusal score) here:
I also have several service pieces (calls to prayer, blessings, etc...) on my website here which may be of interest (full perusal scores are available).
I hope this is helpful.
God Bless,
Michael Sandvik
on January 23, 2016 10:50am
Since it's a festal occasion, for an anthem you might do John Rutter's setting of the Te Deum.  It's not mickey mouse music, but it's not so difficult that it can't be learned quickly.  It is a solid setting with several wonderful climactic moments.  You might take a look at the Mag and Nunc of Harold Friedell.  This is a particular favorite of mine.  He's an American composer, which is nice for celebrations in this country.  The Nunc is basically sight-readable.  The Mag is not.  But it is attainable  I believe it is still in print.  (It comes from the old HW Gray catalog, whoever controlls that these days!).  Good luck.  It's such a wonderful service, and needs to be done more often in more parishes around the US.  They still cling pretty tight to it in the UK and Canada, but we have let it go, and our people are the worse for it.  TCJ
on January 24, 2016 2:16am
Dear Freeman, please do not be so "quick" about Evensong (Vespers). Have a look at its origin through two millenniums.
This church service was the first that emerged within nascent religion. From the very beginning it consisted ENTIRELY of Psalms and "Gladsome Light". After splitting of church into Latin and Byzantine (from early orthodoxy) , some changes were made by adding Song of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32), Magnificat (Luke 1: 46-55) ("My soul doth magnifie the Lord" in Anglican Church) and "Hail Mary" (Luke 1: 28, 42) (Annonciation).
MAIN PSALMS from the very beginning: 103(104), 1, 129(130), 140(141), 92(93), 33(34), then follows Matins (Mattins) including Psalms 3, 37(38), 62(63), 87(88), 102(103), 142(143), 136(137), 50(51), 148,149,150. Numbers in brackets represent Masoret numbering.
All these Psalms are now available in semantic translation and music for any choir and also for solo singing. These are FINDABLE as you asked for (see my page at ChoralNet). Sheet music is sent free on request. (Sample sound tracks are also presented at my page, English and Russian singings are to the same tune, so you can listen to either of them to decide about music).
Good luck!
on January 24, 2016 3:08am
the Vaughan Williams setting of the old 100'would utilise your brass and wouldn't be a worry if not all your singers turned up, alongside that there are no end of festal canticles, Stanford, Dyson, Brewer et al
on January 24, 2016 3:45am

There are a lot of strands in this request. I have some Anglican suggestions for you that shouldn't need so much rehearsal. However, you are also a St Mark's church on the eve of your patron saint's day and with a brass choir at your disposal. You could head for polychoral Venice and use the brass to double any under-represented parts. You know best what will be possible.

My Church of England lectionary has 24th April as either the fifth Sunday of Easter or the first Evening Prayer of St Mark. If yours matches, then going with St Mark the scripture is Psalm 19, Isaiah 52 and Mark 1. Do say if you are using different readings or would prefer Easter repertoire.

Isaiah 52 is the text of Stainer's How beautiful upon the mountains. There are also good choices for patronal festivals by Bruckner – Locus Iste makes a simple introit – Harris – Behold the Tabernacle of God – and Bairstow – Blessed City, Heavenly Salem. Following the Venetian angle, Monteverdi's Christe Adoramus Te (another introit possibility) and Beatus Vir may be in your library already. They are in Oxford's European Sacred Music. I have heard very inexperienced singers get excellent results with Beatus Vir. Schütz worked in Venice, too. His Woman Why Weepest Thou covers the Easter theme as well, although the text is not by Mark.

When my church sings Psalm 19, the usual chant is this one by Helen Grainger. She wrote it for psalm 67 but it fits this one even better.
She is now Helen Williams.

Responses eat rehearsal time, especially if you are not all used to singing together. Do many of your group know Smith 5-part, Ayleward or Rose? The last is straightforward, provided your cantor knows the versicle part.

For canticles, a very clear recommendation, especially for a celebration, is Dyson in D. If you have a couple of sopranos that can hold a top G it will sound wonderful. For even less rehearsal time, Ireland in F is low-risk, high-reward. If you have no rehearsal time at all, Stanford in B flat is familiar to almost anyone that ever sang evening prayer. For full Venetian splendour, Schütz and Monteverdi both wrote Magnificats. I hesitate to call them easy but you may have soloists that can look after the difficult bits and they are certainly special. You could still use the Dyson Nunc Dimittis.

May all your plans come together.


Applauded by an audience of 1
on January 25, 2016 4:40am
Smith Responses are better accessable than Rose's (and personally more enjoyable).  I second Stanford in B-flat.
For a more intersting response, I edited a readable version of the Tompkins.
Did anyone mention Noble in B-minor? I might say a good 75% of that piece is in unison.  There are moments of 4-part Tenor/Bass...
All of the above is available on CPDL.
on January 25, 2016 7:58am
Hello Freeman,
Greetings from the heart of snowbound ‘Casavant’ country in Quebec! I was brought up on these magnificent instruments in the Anglican church where I was at first a choir boy and later organist and choir director.
I have three Choral Evensong suggestions drawn from a suite Psalms and Canticles of Prayer, Praise and Thanksgiving that I was commissioned to write by The St. Joseph Community Chorus in St. Joseph, Missouri, for a Region VI Convention of the American Guild of Organists. The three sample are of necessity a minute long, each having one to three excerpted passages.
The first two suggestions are the Nunc Dimitis – A Song of Peace – (SAATB, timpani, organ with pedals, optional flute, French horn) 
and the Magnificat (SSA, organ with pedals  (optional harp).
As a possible anthem, I would like to recommend the Benedicite (Let the Whole Creation Bless the Lord)– also from Psalms and Canticles…  (5:02) SSAATB, with occasional T & B divisi at points of cadence. It is scored for organ and instruments that are optional, although the presence of timpani and cymbals and piano, along with organ is encouraged. Complete scoring: Oboe, Trumpet, French Horn,Trombone, Timpani, Percussion (Tr. Cymb, tamb) Harp, piano organ with pedals. 
I would be pleased to send along sample scores as well as mp3s of the complete movements. The two other psalms are Psalm 57 (Have Mercy on Me, O God) and Psalm 23 (Holy One You are My Shepherd).
All are available from A Tempo <donaldpatriquin(at)>
on January 25, 2016 12:10pm
on January 26, 2016 3:11am
My sincere thanks to all who so graciously made suggestions and offered material.  I'm actively perusing and making the difficult decisions of what to NOT do — there were so many excellent suggestions.  When the Evensong has become history I'll post the final list with a necessarily subhjective analysis of its successes.  In my diocese Evensong has virtually disappeared outside of the Cathedral's once a month efforts and St.George's «rRound» Church where there is a relatively recent but strong tradition of fine music based on the exclusive use of the Canadian 1959 version of the 1549/1662 Prayer Books. We at St.Mark's are hoping to offer our own small glimpse of the glorious tradition I had the privilege to regularly experience in my youth — a tradition that «once was» in many Parish Churches of the Diocese. 
on January 26, 2016 10:16am
Hi Freeman,
May I jump in here and say that I was commissioned by St. Bedes Church in Mar Vista, CA a few years ago and have three fairly easy SATB and organ pieces for your perusal:
Magnificat - (beautifully performed by the Church of our Savior, Philip Smith, music minister)
Phos Hilaron - (beautifully sung by the Church of our Saviour, Philip Smith, conductor)
Nunc Dimittis -  (forgive the midi but it doesn't sound ALL that bad)
All can be found and purchased on my website.
on January 27, 2016 12:03pm
on January 28, 2016 5:08am
Thank you Abi.  Unfortunately some quite interesting NAMES there but the publishers still haven't found their way into the 21st Century — there was no way to PREVIEW those items, and certainly not enough time (my experience is 3-6 moths turnariound) to receive review copies, order and then get the copies needed on time. I did find, however, some interesting easy material, mostly by composers of whom I had no previous knowledge.
on January 29, 2016 6:57am
The last comment you made, Freeman, about turn around times in ordering perusal copies or getting the music itself taking three to six months need not be so on this kind of music!  The go-to guy for all choral music, but most particularly Anglican choral repertoire is Clifford Hill in Cleveland.  Cliff ran the old printed music department at the Princeton University Store for many years and at the same time was an Episcopal choirmaster-organist in North Jersey.  He set out on his own quite a while ago now, and bases his business in metro-Cleveland.  You can reach him at cliff(a)  Whatever you wish to peruse, he will have a copy or two dropshipped to you the same day.  Overnight if you are willing to pay the postage.  He has a large in house stock of items, and is not afraid to pick up the phone and call his people at Oxford or various American publishing houses and ask for their cooperation.  He is THE go-to guy in this area.  So get in touch. Beyond selling the music, he KNOWS the repertoire up and down and you will likely have a most enlightening talk with him ... yes, he personally speaks on the phone, too.  This is a must-have person on your side if you deal in serious choral music.  Try him.  TCJ
on February 15, 2016 5:59pm
Sounds like it will be a beautiful service.  Feel free to get in touch w/ me if you have any questions or need further recommendation!
email: musicinfo(a)
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