Church Music in the Summertime: What to do? What to do?

Our choirs have worked hard throughout the program year, and, yes, we all operate on an academic year in church world. They have sung for Sundays, Christmas Eve, maybe several Evensong services, Lessons and Carols, not to mention Holy Week Services. Their commitment is remarkable and they deserve our gratitude and they deserve some time off!

For many of us, we discontinue weekly choir rehearsals during the summer to give our choirs (and ourselves) a much needed break. This begs the question, however; what do we do to keep our liturgies during the summer vibrant, musically speaking?  Here are some ideas:

  • Summer Choir, or a “Y’all Come Choir”

This is a great way to invite new people to experience the joy of singing in a choir. Rehearse an hour before the service and sing something the choir knows well (one of those “blizzard anthems”) or put together a simple unison anthem that can be learned quickly.  This is also an opportunity to arrange a hymn as an anthem. This website has any examples of how to do that. 

  • Vocal or duets

Do you have folks in your choir who are capable of singing solo works?  These don’t have to be difficult. You can even use unison anthems for solos.  Maybe two in your choir sing a duet. There is repertoire for duets, but if you have a 2-part anthem in your library, use that! 

  • Instrumentalist

Do you have a flautist, violinist, oboist in your congregation? Ask them play for a Sunday. There is a great deal of repertoire for C instruments with piano or organ available. Also, if there is a handbell group in your parish, ask them to play during the summer. 

  • Have a hymn sing

During the Offertory or at the Song of Praise take 12-15 minutes and sing one stanza of any hymn the congregation requests. You need a good emcee for this and usually the hymns must come from hymnals in the pews. You can sing through quite a few hymns without adding a lot of time to the service.

  • Teach a piece of paperless music

While the offering is being collected, get the congregation singing a piece that you teach them. Music by Heart (Church Publishing, Inc.), Singing in Community: Paperless Music for Worship (Augsburg Fortress), and the John Bell books, We Walk His Way and Come All You People (GIA Publications, Inc.) are great resources. Look on YouTube for Music that Makes Community for great ideas of how to teach this kind of music. 

Whatever you choose to do at your parish this summer it is important that music during these three months continues to support the liturgy to keep it vital and alive.

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