Editor’s note: We asked Chad Fothergill, author of the recent Worship Matters handbook Sing with All the People of God, to write about how the book might still be useful given recent guidance surrounding group singing. This is what he wrote. This post also appears on the Prelude Music Planner Blog.Read More > >
This is a challenging time to work in church music. Choir plans have been scuttled as a result of public health guidelines and we are working with new methods of connecting with one another. Many are streaming music from home as part of online worship services. To assist with this, Augsburg Fortress is extending through July 31, 2020, its temporary permission for worshiping communities to include Augsburg Fortress administered liturgical text and liturgical music copyrights in a livestream or podcast. Read more about this in our landing page.Read More > >
Our worship video for Easter Sunday included a sound track of our youth choirs singing Mark Patterson’s “Alleluia, Christ is Risen!” Even in the midst of a global pandemic without regular rehearsals, we offered our gift of song, and the bonus was that we had silent video footage of the children singing it from our last Zoom rehearsal! Thanks to some previous experience using Audacity to create recordings for Honor Choir auditions, I knew that I could create one recording featuring our current singers. Parents received a practice recording from me shortly after we began virtual rehearsals. In the week leading up to Easter, I invited my young friends to send an MP3 recording of themselves singing along with me. It required about a day and a half of mixing, editing, and syncing, but it turned out amazingly well. It was a special gift of hope for our congregation to hear the children and youth sing, and also to witness how staying connected virtually these past several weeks prepared them to accomplish it.Read More > >
We’ve made it through Holy Week, the fourth week that we’ve all been sheltering at home here in Minnesota. I’ve had four Zoom rehearsals with my youth choirs and am learning a lot about the benefits and challenges of using the Zoom platform with my singers.Read More > >
“’Twas on a Sunday Morning,” a solo from composer Evelyn Larter, is perfect for Easter Sunday or Eastertide. Augsburg Fortress will be releasing a collection of vocal solos from Larter next year, but in the meantime we have made this manuscript available for free in the hopes that churches will find it useful when many congregations are unable to assemble in person. Permission is granted by the composer and Augsburg fortress to reproduce this piece for worship through August of 2020.Read More > >
My last in-person rehearsal with my two youth choirs at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church was Wednesday, March 11. I did not know until the following day, however, that it would be the last time I’d see those singers for the foreseeable future. When I found out, my heart sank. Our youth choir program has been a thriving and committed community within our congregation for over 20 years. Friendships among children and their parents have taken root over Wednesday night meals at church and after-choir games of tag out on the lawn, and lifelong singers have been nurtured. I’ve always felt that this ministry is as much about building relationships as it is about making music. Faced with the dire predictions about the pandemic, I knew that it would be important to help us all maintain some sense of connection and continuity during this uncertain time. I wanted to make sure the children could still see their friends. I wanted to keep them singing. And I was already mourning the loss of the joy they bring to my life. I needed them as much as I hope they needed me.Read More > >
When someone asks me about the benefits of intergenerational choral experiences in the church, I think of Thomas, a college student majoring in music. Throughout his childhood and youth, he benefited from a variety of musical experiences at church, including singing in the children’s and youth choirs, and, as he grew, performing as an instrumentalist. He also participated in intergenerational choirs several times per year. As a child, he heard harmony around him for the first time. When his voice changed, he gained vocal confidence because he was able to sit among strong, adult male voices. Because the combination of choirs meant increased numbers of singers and the vocal security that brings, the anthem could be a bit more musically challenging.Read More > >
by Jonathan Kohrs
Even though the season after the Epiphany is considered part of “ordinary” time (ordered, or counted, as in “ordinal” numbers: the Second, Fourth, or Seventh Sundays after Epiphany), I’d like to share with you some well-crafted—but not too difficult—pieces for this season that are a bit “out of the ordinary,” especially regarding harmonic language and voicing.Read More > >
Zebulon Highben is a popular composer in the Augsburg Fortress catalog. In this interview, we learn how he got started as a composer, what he does today, and how he thinks about the writing process.
Could you tell us about your current job/vocation, outside of composing?
I am Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Muskingum University, a liberal arts college of the Presbyterian Church (USA). I direct the choral program there and teach conducting, choral methods, choral literature, andRead More > >
One of my favorite collections of songs for children is the book Sing the Stories of Jesus by John Horman and Mary Nelson Keithahn. It is chock-full of songs based on various stories from the Gospels, some well-known stories and some that are often overlooked. Several songs are simple enough to be used for Sunday School groups, but all are perfect for young singers in choirs. They cover events of Jesus' life from the angels' Gloria at his birth to Breakfast by the Sea after the resurrection. Instructions for teaching are included for each song as well as an accompaniment CD if you need it. Over time, I have taught and directed many of these songs, but I'd like to share the way I have taught, embellished, and performed four of my favorites from this collection.Read More > >