Wise men travel from East Vero

Wise men travel from East Vero

I began the morning ready to write my daily entry of this blog.  However, I got sidetracked by the fact that I had choir practice this afternoon.  Last Saturday, I had promised the choir that I would have CD’s of our Christmas music and the words of the new Christmas songs printed out for them.  By the time I’d finished my task, it was 1pm and I barely had enough time to rush out the door for Vero Beach and choir.

So, now, it’s almost time for the day to end and I’m just sitting down to do this blog.  Here are some of the questions that I’m asked after each performance of our Christmas play and music. 

“When do you begin practicing the Christmas music?”

In July of each year.  This gives the choir time to memorize all the words to the eight to ten songs that we perform.  This year our choir will memorize eight songs.  The first song will also be the final song.

“Where do you get your plays from?”

We write our own plays.  I write the Melbourne/Vero play.  Richard Stimson writes the Brevard play.

“Where do you get your music?”

That one is a tougher question.  Every year, it’s an adventurous search to find music for the next year.  In fact, I’ve already started looking for new music for next year.  By January, I’ve usually settled on our source and I begin preliminary preparations.  We have been able to get the music from many different places.  We need music that has good orchestration but not complicated arrangements.  In the past, we have used some children’s and youth musical. 

Several years ago after an internet search,  I discovered a children’s split track Christmas album.  That year, we sang the familiar carol favorites from that album.  Then the next year, I realized that it had ten Negro spiritual’s on it.  They were great fun to learn and sing.  The third year, I took different carols from the album and combined them with a couple of the spirituals the choir had really enjoyed from the previous year.  The title of the album is Gospel Christmas Songsperformed by the Cedarmont Kids.  

Let Heaven and Nature Swing was a youth musical that our choir enjoyed singing and the audience was extremely enthusiastic about.  The choir was especially happy to learn a simplified version of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”  In the middle of that piece, the audience began to applaud.  As the choir continued singing, the audience stood on their feet to show their appreciation for the quality of performance the choir did. 

In years past and this year, I’ve slightly adapted the words to music to fit the Christmas season.  This year I’ve used selections from All the Best for Youth.  This is a four volume set.  I’ve adapted a few of the words to make these songs more Christmasy.  We begin with our title song, “Above All Else.”

Here is a list of the songs we will be using:

  1. “Above All Else”
  2. “Here is My Heart”–A song Mary sings to the Lord.  At the end of the song, an angel will appear to Mary and explain that she will bear God’s Son.
  3. “His Strength is Perfect”–A song Mary sings after a disappointing encounter with Joseph.  Joseph will stomp around angry as the choir sings.
  4. “We’ve Got Something to Say”–The song sung by the Angel that appears to Joseph.
  5. “O, Lord, My Rock”–Mary and Joseph sing as they prepare to go to Bethlehem.
  6. “And I Cried, Holy, Holy, Holy”–I changed some of the words to this song so that the song is “And The Angel cried, Glory, Glory, Glory.”  Here, of course, the angels appear to the shepherds.
  7. “King Jesus Is All”–This becomes “Messiah Is Born” and it is sung by the shepherds as they go to find Baby Jesus.
  8. “God is Gonna Finish”–Is the Wise Men’s song as they travel to Bethlehem to find the Baby.
  9. “Above All Else”–This will be our final song.

We usually have a story that wraps itself around the songs.  However, I don’t have to have that until mid-August because play practice begin in September. 

Are you able to obtain good music for your choir at Christmas?  What is your best source?