“If we consider and ask ourselves what sort of music we should wish to hear on entering a church, we should surely, in describing our ideal, say, first of all that it must be something different from what is heard elsewhere; that it should be a sacred music, devoted to its purpose; a music whose peace should still passion, whose dignity should strengthen our faith, whose beauty should find a home in our hearts to cheer us in life and death; a music worthy of the fair temples in which we meet, and of the holy words of our Liturgy; a music whose expression of the mystery of things unseen never allowed any trifling motive to ruffle the sanctity of its reserve.” — Robert Bridges
The Music Program at St. Mark’s consists of five separate choral groups which provide sung music for a variety of services held in the parish during the liturgical year. As we are a part of the Anglican Communion, much of the choral music offered is drawn from the rich tradition which comes to us through the Church of England. A wide variety of other styles of music are used as well, from early monastic chant and Renaissance composers to contemporary American works and spirituals.
In addition, there is regular use of the music of Taizé, a French monastic community known for its simple and beautiful repetitive chants. In addition to monthly Evensongs in a plainsong setting for congregational participation, full choral Evensongs are offered on occasion with more intricate and involved settings of the canticles and responses for the choir. These beautiful services are a unique part of our Anglican heritage.
Music for Children and Youth
The purpose of the children’s music program at St. Mark’s is to provide an opportunity for children to learn the value and joy of singing, not only in worship, but for everyday life. Through rehearsals designed with fellowship, games, and singing, young children can develop musical skills which will enhance their social, memory, and motor development. More importantly, ongoing participation in the music program will effectively complement religious education by instructing children on the elements of the liturgy and the stories of our faith as they are told through song.
The Cherub Choir
The youngest choir, our “Cherubs” is for preschool children ages 3 – 5. It rehearses on Sunday mornings for 15 minutes during the education hour, in the preschool classrooms. The focus for this age group is on learning to sing simple songs as a group, learning rhythm basics through imitation, and becoming aware of the whole body in singing. The Cherubs will sing on Christmas Eve, Palm Sunday and Mother’s Day. This choir is directed by Marsha Webster, Music Associate for Children’s Choirs.
The “Choristers”, for children in Kindergarten through third grade, rehearses on Wednesdays, from 4:15 to 5:00 pm in the choir room, which is located down the hall from the narthex stairway. The Choristers sing a simple anthem in worship once a month. Rehearsals focus on learning to sing as a group, becoming aware of the body in singing, simple rhythms and basic music fundamentals. Marsha Webster directs this choir as well.
Youth Choir (4th grade through Senior High)
The Youth Choir is for older elementary through senior high youth. Rehearsals are Sundays after the education hour, 11:15 – 11:45. This group focuses more on the development of singing skills and learning about the choral tradition of the Episcopal Church. The Youth Choir not only sings an anthem once a month, but also leads the congregation in singing hymns, the psalm and service music. All children and youth are welcome and encouraged to join the Youth Choir.
Parent involvement in St. Mark’s music program is essential to the program’s effectiveness and success. Volunteers are needed to assist with bathroom breaks and general order during the rehearsal, especially for the K – 2nd grade group. A sign-up sheet is available on rehearsal days, or a parent may contact Marsha Webster to volunteer.
9:15 Hymn Choir
This ensemble helps to lead music for the 9:15 a.m. worship service on a monthly basis, singing hymns, the psalm and service music, and a simple offertory or communion anthem. Rehearsals are held at 8:30 a.m. on the Sundays the Choir is scheduled to sing. Music note-reading is helpful, but not required to be a part of this group. Many of the anthems are sent via e-mail in advance for the singers to listen to and review prior to the rehearsal. Those interested in being part of this group should e-mail Marsha Webster at email@example.com.
The members of this ensemble provide the majority of choral music sung for services in the parish. Beginning with an annual retreat in mid-September, this group keeps a very busy schedule of singing almost every Sunday of the academic year, as well as additional services such as Lessons & Carols, Christmas Eve, Holy Week, and various Evensongs. There is an emphasis on a cappella singing, in addition to anthems accompanied by a variety of instrumental ensembles, as well as organ. As with any of the choral groups, new members to the Adult Choir are always welcomed.
From time to time the group sponsors various social events in the parish for fundraising purposes, and has so far commissioned two works: a new hymntune by Richard Webster of Boston and an anthem by Malcolm Archer, formerly of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. Rehearsals are held on Thursday evenings from 8:00 to 9:30pm, as well as Sunday mornings an hour before the service.
Charles Snider, Organist & Choirmaster
St. Mark’s celebrated the 25 year ministry of Charles Snider with a special anniversary concert on Saturday, September 29, 2012. Read more.
Marsha Webster, Music Associate for Children’s Choirs