Prelude Blog

New Choral Titles for Lent, Easter, Spring 2019

Posted on Dec 12, 2018 10:50:42 AM by Tim Shaw in Planning

As church musicians who must plan repertoire in advance, our thoughts are often a season or two ahead, and I think this is especially fitting during December. To have one ear in Christmas and the other ear in Easter reminds us of this profound truth: Christ Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7-8, NRSV). Have you begun thinking about Lent/Easter music? Perhaps after all the holiday concerts and extra worship services are over, after the gifts have been opened, you’ll find some down time to plan for the next season. To help you, here are some excellent new resources for you to consider:

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Encouragement from Bach

Posted on Dec 3, 2018 5:11:38 PM by Peter Hilliard in Choral Techniques and Repertoire

"So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up." – Galatians 6:9 (NRSV)

For many musicians, especially church musicians, a chasm opens between the training and the practice of their art. Professional training involves deep study of great music literature, the refinement of musical taste, and the attainment of a high playing standard. “This is what playing to the glory of God is really all about,” we think as we enter the real world. But in that real world, church musicians encounter harsh realities. The ideal sound we were hoping for is nearly unattainable. The hard work we put into our playing passes unnoticed. Our diligence assembling meaningful worship falls on undiscerning ears. And, at times, there are those who stand opposed to our goals.

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Back to Basics: Leading Assembly Song

Posted on Oct 29, 2018 4:29:29 PM by Chad Fothergill in Assembly Song

Throughout the late summer and early fall, I had opportunity to review several recordings of worship services at which I served as an assembly song leader from the keyboard. Many of these recordings were made during the 2018 Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival at Valparaiso University; in other instances, I reviewed livestream recordings from congregations where I had served as a substitute. Hearing these was an excruciating, yet enlightening experience: seemingly catastrophic moments—a sloppy phrase lift here, a wrong pedal note there—were barely noticeable while, on the other hand, what I thought had been suitable tempi and registrations seemed to inappropriately drag, rush, screech, or mumble.

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Meet the Composer: Anne Krentz Organ

Posted on Sep 10, 2018 4:10:00 PM by Anne Krentz Organ in Potpourri

Anne Krentz Organ is one of the most popular composers in the Augsburg Fortress catalog. In this interview, we learn how she got started in church music, what she does today, and how she thinks about the creative process.

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Key Signatures and Effective Assembly Singing

Posted on Aug 10, 2018 4:13:00 PM by Tim Shaw in Composing and arranging

Those who accompany singing in worship services have many factors to consider in order to lead effectively, including: text, tempo, mood, dynamics, articulation, registration, and key. This last musical parameter, the key signature, is often overlooked when accompanying assembly singing. We may alter the tempo to encourage better singing; we may change registration from verse to verse to build to a climax; we may underscore textual imagery by playing with a different articulation. We may even modulate up a half-step and play a re-harmonization to boost singing on the final verse. But, how often do we think about the written key signature as something that can be changed entirely to enable better participation from the gathered assembly?

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Christmas in July: Piano/Organ Repertoire for Advent/Christmas

Posted on Jul 10, 2018 4:19:00 PM by Tim Shaw in review-prelude

I love the holiday season—even though it can be a stressful time—and I love the music that accompanies Advent and Christmas. Every year, I look forward to taking out my collection of seasonal music and playing through it again, and it always feels like spending time with good friends I haven’t seen for a while. It’s July, so you may (or may not!) be in planning mode for the upcoming year—I hope you’ll consider programming some of the following piano and organ repertoire. These are some of my favorite resources, and I find myself turning to them over and over again. Most of these titles are available through Prelude Music Planner. Some are in the public domain and are available (for free!) through the International Music Score Library Project (www.imslp.org).*

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The Augsburg Chorale Book: Five Hundred Years of Singing (and Counting!)

Posted on Jun 10, 2018 4:24:00 PM by Zebulon Highben in Uncategorized

The party’s over. 2017 has come and gone, and with it, the sesquicentennial of Martin Luther and the Reformation. The concerts, lectures, and ecumenical worship celebrations have concluded. The exhibits have come down, and the newly made banners and paraments have been put away. A Mighty Fortress is Our God is taking a well-earned rest.

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Summer Music

Posted on Apr 25, 2018 10:55:41 AM by Anne Krentz Organ in Uncategorized

Do your choirs take a break over the summer months? I know of several churches in which the choirs continue to sing all year round, but more frequently I hear of choirs being “off” for the summer. If this is the case for you, rather than viewing it as a loss, consider it an opportunity to branch out and incorporate a variety of other vocal and instrumental ensembles. Tap the home-grown musical talent in your church and community.

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Choral Music for Holy Week: Sunday of the Passion and the Three Days

Posted on Mar 15, 2018 9:49:23 AM by Jonathan Kohrs in Planning

It goes without saying that Holy Week is one of the busiest times of the church year for choirs and their directors. But along with the high demands of singing for multiple services within the span of six or seven days (let alone the “eighth day” of Easter!) come the great rewards of proclaiming the Gospel through a wide variety of music in the most dramatic liturgies of the church year.

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A "Choral Ecology" in Worship Music Planning

Posted on Feb 27, 2018 5:05:29 PM by John Sall in Choral Techniques and Repertoire, in Planning

Within our congregations and personal lives, we have increasingly clear understanding of the ways our personal decisions around our use of resources matter. How can we carry this sense of stewardship into the planning and care we exhibit for resources of wisdom, people, talent, time, and connection in our worship services? Over recent years I have grown to plan anthems, service music, and other choir roles with a much clearer view of the “ecosystem” volunteer church choirs exist in. Intentional planning with this awareness has helped to provide increased comfort and musical consistency in the growth and leadership of my choirs, it has broadened our choral and congregational repertoire without (much) resistance, and it has helped to deepen theological and liturgical connections in an era of widely varied attendance patterns. Others have articulated well the introduction of new hymns into a congregation’s repertoire, so I will not repeat that process here but focus directly on choral leadership.

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