This Sunday the Chancel Cantata Choir and Orchestra will present “Love Came Down at Christmas” by Joel Raney during worship. This work is a wonderful mix of many familiar carols, along with new songs written by Joel. We also have a Guest Soloist this year. Our own Téa Sopoci-Hardin will join the choir on “Grant Us Peace”. I had the privilege of attending a music reading workshop this past July where Joel Raney was the Guest Clinician. These annual workshops, sponsored by J.W. Pepper Music and where I purchase most of our choir and handbell music, are a gathering of music directors and choir directors from around the area and southern Minnesota. And what goes on at these workshops? All of us “directors” sit together and sing through about 50 or more new anthems. It’s a great time! I had already identified “Love Came Down….” as a strong candidate as this year’s cantata, so I was really looking forward to the workshop after I saw that Joel was this year’s clinician. After spending some time with Joel talking about his cantata, as well as our music programs and our wonderful Chancel Choir, I knew that this was the piece for us!
The Choir has been working hard since October and the orchestra and choir came together last night for the one and only choir/orchestra rehearsal before Sunday’s performance. I’m always impressed by how quickly and how well the two groups come together with their one rehearsal. Our orchestra is made up of string, woodwind and brass players from the Twin Cities area. I’ve been very fortunate to have been working with many of the same musicians for several years. In fact, this is the 8th year that our string group has been with us, all thanks to our 2nd Violinist, Karen Moon. Karen heads up the String Education program at the MacPhail Center for Music. All of this year’s string players are teachers at MacPhail. Many of our woodwind and brass players have also been with us for several years. It’s a real gift to have such a strong and wide pool of musicians to draw from. Give them a “thank you” on Sunday, if you get the chance.
And let’s not forget about our wonderful choir! The Chancel Choir, along with additional folks who join them to be part of the Cantata Choir, is a very talented group who gather each Wednesday evening for 90 minutes starting in September. The glorious sounds you’ll hear on Sunday, along with the other Sunday’s when the choir sings throughout the year, is because they work hard, they love to sing and they love our church and our church family. As I said, they work hard every week! Their director (that’d be me!) works them hard, but what they accomplish at rehearsals and then bring to you on Sunday mornings is nothing short of fantastic. I am blessed and grateful to have the privilege to lead this great group of singers and I am very much looking forward this Sunday’s presentation. I know you’ll enjoy it, too.
The weather (predicted highs in the 40s!) will make getting to church this year seem like a breeze compared to the past few years on Cantata Sunday. So, invite your family, friends and neighbors and let’s “fill the Sanctuary” as the Chancel Cantata Choir and Orchestra present “Love Came Down at Christmas”.
Hope to see you Sunday!
Director of Worship and Music