The Grace Church Choir
At Grace Church music undergirds our proclamation of the Word, our prayers, and our celebration at the Lord’s Table. It is not essential – in the absence of music, the Holy Eucharist is still the Holy Eucharist – but it supports and contributes by means of an additional sensory dimension. It gives us another way to receive God’s truth and to offer up to him a thing of beauty.
The Choir and the Congregation
The most important aspect of our musical life is the music of The Congregation. Hearty, vibrant singing by the entire assembled Body of Christ is our goal. When achieved, it just doesn’t get any better.
Our Hymn Repertoire
The repertoire of music sung by our congregation includes six settings of service music for the Holy Eucharist, two for Rite I (by John Merbecke and Healey Willan), and four for Rite II (by David Hurd, Robert Powell, Franz Schubert, and William Mathias). In general, we change the service music with the changes in the seasons of the church year.
Our hymn repertoire from The Hymnal 1982 is extensive. We sing five hymns in each celebration of the Eucharist, and they are selected to complement the appointed readings of the day. We sing hymns from Gregorian chant, German Reformation chorales, texts and tunes from the early English psalters, hymns by Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and their contemporaries, and, moving forward in history, many hymns from the 19th and 20th centuries. Non-western cultures are represented too. We have inherited a wonderful legacy of hymnody from throughout the entire course of church history, and we try to use it wisely.
Our Choir Organization and Schedule
We define The Choir as that part of the Congregation that rehearses Wednesday evenings so that we of the Choir might better lead the Congregation in their singing: there is no more important function of the Choir than this. But we also offer a choral selection while the Lord’s Table is being prepared and the gifts from the Congregation are being gathered. Our choral repertoire is eclectic and drawn from the “academic tradition,” which is to say that it’s music that could be profitably studied in the classroom because it’s well written. If it’s “old” music (chant [both Gregorian and Anglican], motets from the Renaissance, or choral music from the 18th and 19th centuries), its survival is a testament to its quality. If it’s newer music (from the 20th or 21st centuries), we choose to do it because it has qualities that suggest that it just might endure, even if it’s too early to tell. About half of our choral music is accompanied, half unaccompanied. The Choir rehearses and leads the singing from late August through the Feast of Pentecost, then takes a break for the summer. At the present time the Choir numbers around 25.
The Choir sings at the 11:00 service. At 9:00 Gratiae Cantores, a mixed quartet, leads the congregational singing and sings a short SATB piece at the Offertory (typically a hymn). The specific singers in this small ensemble vary from week to week, but most of them are also in the Choir.
Music is the manipulation of sound into meaningful, pleasing aural patterns. Music is a gift from God. The ability to conceive of meaningful, pleasing patterns and to commit them to paper – music composition – is a gift from God. The ability to read those patterns and to realize them as sound – music performance – is a gift from God. The opportunity to make music in this place – in the beautiful nave of Grace Church and with the wonderful instrument housed therein – is a gift from God. The opportunity to make this music corporately – with everyone gathered together – is a gift from God. The opportunity to offer this gift back to God – for his praise and glory – is a privilege and honor.
You are invited to join us in singing your praises and thanksgivings and intercessory prayers with the Congregation.
For additional information, contact:
Jan Helmut Wubbena, Organist-Choirmaster firstname.lastname@example.org
Terri Wubbena, Director, Grace Children’s Choir School email@example.com
When in our music God is glorified,
and adoration leaves no room for pride,
it is as though the whole creation cried
—F. Pratt Green
The Hymnal 1982, No. 420
In 2008 we instituted a Choral Scholarship Program for qualified students from John Brown University. Each year we invite students to apply, audition and interview. We appoint two or three choral scholars each year. John Brown University students can click here to download an application.
The Organ leads the music. Grace Church is blessed with a beautiful nave with acoustical properties ideal for the performance of music. For that reason Ernest Whitmore, a local musician, asked if he might locate his personally owned pipe organ in our nave. We were very pleased to agree to accommodate it, because we get to use it in our worship. The nave and the instrument, Steven Cook’s Opus 10, represent a nearly ideal marriage of room and organ. Installed in April 2002, it has two manuals and pedal with mechanical key and stop action. (Our own small pipe organ is now on loan to the Episcopal Student Center at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.)
The Grace Children’s Choir School (GCCS) is a choral group based at Grace Episcopal Church and is open to all children, not just Grace Church members, who are in the 2nd through 8th grades.
We use the Royal School of Church Music’s curriculum, Voice for Life, a multi-faceted approach. We are grateful to have the largest children's choir in the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas.
For more information, please continue on to our Children's Choir School page.