Music at St. Paul’s

Grace Notes     May, 2019                    by Linda Laughton, Music Director

    My first Easter at St. Paul’s was amazing! We were well prepared during Lent to experience the drama and darkness of Holy Week and then to usher the new light of the resurrection into the church at predawn Easter morning. The Easter proclamation was made, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” “The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!” and a thankful congregation sang many Alleluias in a sanctuary filled with gorgeous flowers. I thank the children for singing “Jubilate Deo,” and also thank Walter Phillips for his solo, “God, my father, why hast thou forsaken me,” from the CANTATA “Olivet to Calvary” on Maundy Thursday. Thanks to our dauntless bell ringers for adding their special touch to the psalms and always to the choir for their long hours of rehearsals leading up to the Easter anthem. Thankfully, Easter is not just one day, but an entire season of 50-days, so we will be able to continue to experience the glorious Eastertide for a few more weeks.  

    I don’t believe I am giving away any secrets by mentioning this because there is activity at St. Paul’s on any given day of the week through the year, but here are some observations I made during my planning and practice time at the church during Holy Week: There is a small army of church volunteers who transformed a bare sanctuary into an opulent spring garden that greeted us on Easter morning. There is another group that worked on the church grounds to make them pristine. There is an incredible contingent of foodies at St. Paul’s that showed up with everything from yummy snacks to complete meals at precisely the right time. The altar guild is a finely tuned machine that chugs along week in and week out to keep our sanctuary sparkling and they were operating in overdrive during Holy Week. There are others who put in many hours serving in administration, vestry and outreach. Then, all of these folks show up on Sunday mornings, themselves polished and shining, to fully participate in worship with their presence, their prayers, and with their voices lifted in praise. What a glorious Easter!        What a wonderful congregation is St. Paul’s! What a privilege it is to serve in this church!

    VOICE FOR LIFE is a choir training method I have been using for many years to develop choirs by addressing the individual singer’s voice and musical skill. The program is graded into five levels appropriate for all ages within the context of a choir and is available to anyone interested in learning more about music and voice. VOICE FOR LIFE is individually paced and progress is based upon the effort put in by the participant. Periodic check-ins with the music director are required at certain points in each level before advancing to the next. Each level has its own workbook which must be purchased ($11-$12 each) and, for the children, ribbons, which are worn over their choir cottas, are awarded at the achievement of each level along with a certificate. Summer is a great time to get started with VOICE FOR LIFE as there is more flexible time available for independent study, so please see me if you or your child are interested in getting started.  

    For current and prospective new choir members, please note summer choir rehearsals (beginning May 26) will take place on Sunday mornings from 8:45 – 9:45 immediately preceding the 10:00 service. Wednesday evening rehearsals are suspended until after Labor Day so our families may also fully enjoy the beauty of our Crystal Coast. Our final Wednesday rehearsal for the spring will be May 15. If you are visiting Beaufort this summer and wish to sing in the St. Paul’s choir, you are welcome to join us – simply meet us in the rehearsal room at 8:45. If you would drop me an email in advance [] I will send you the music to preview.   

    I will be providing music at this year’s ECW of Province IV (Sewanee) Annual Retreat at Trinity Center from June 3-5. The theme is “Godly Harmony, Transformation and Renewal in Today’s World” so my task is to bring “hymns with harmonies” to get these ladies – one of the largest groups of Episcopalian Church women – revved up for what promises to be quite an invigorating and inspirational retreat. I hope many from St. Paul’s ECW will be in attendance. You may find information for registration in the parish hall and the deadline is May 8.

    On Wednesday, June 5 at 6pm St. Paul’s will offer a service for our new Rector with Bishop Rob Skirving. I am planning music focusing on new ministry and I pray the entire St. Paul’s family will be present to lift our hearts and voices in this official welcome to our very special Tammy Lee!   

                                        Bless! Bless!     Linda

Linda Laughton – Music Director

Music Ministry at St. Paul’s Beaufort.  The Music Ministry at St. Paul’s supports the Sunday 10:45am liturgy (10:00am during the summer), other high feast days during the year, and at Christmas and Holy Week with an organist/choir director, an adult choir, a children’s choir, a youth choir and a handbell choir. The sanctuary organ is a 3-manual Allen Quantum Renaissance model 350. The adult and youth choirs are vested in a traditional Anglican black or red choir cassock with white cotta. The children’s choir wears a blue cassock with white cotta.  

    Adult Choir.  The Adult Choir consists of approximately a dozen volunteer singers with capacity for 24 or more. Professional vocalists and musicians are hired as needed to assist the choir for occasional services. The choir meets in the rehearsal room each week during the school year on Wednesdays from 6:45 pm to 8:15 pm, and Sunday mornings from 9:50 to 10:30 preceding the 10:45 service; and during the summers on Sunday mornings from 8:45 to 9:45 preceding the 10:00 service. There are no Wednesday rehearsals during the summer.

    The liturgy follows the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The choir is responsible each week for singing a hymn during the procession, a Gloria or Kyrie or Trisagion, a psalm, a gospel acclamation and verse or a sequence hymn, a choral anthem at the offertory, a presentation hymn, the Sanctus and Fraction Anthem during the Eucharistic prayer, hymns at the communion, and a post-communion or recessional hymn. Occasionally, the choir will also sing a choral introit before the beginning of the service, or a choral benediction at the end of the service. Hymns are sung primarily from The Hymnal 1982 and its supplements, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “Wonder, Love and Praise.” Occasionally, hymns are sung from other sources and reproduced in accordance with St. Paul’s church copyright license agreement with

    St. Paul’s Choir is an associate member of The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) whose mission is to assist churches throughout the world in maintaining high quality standards in their music programs. St. Paul’s uses RSCM planning resources in selecting its choral music. St. Paul’s also utilizes the RSCM choir training method, VOICE FOR LIFE (VFL), as an independent study program which is offered to any choir member of any age willing to put in the extra time required outside of weekly choir rehearsals. VFL is a 5-level course with ribbons and certificates available at the completion of each level.  The ribbons are an attractive incentive for the children and youth singers as they may be worn over the choir cotta during performance.

    Children and Youth Choirs.  All children and youth at St. Paul’s gain choral experience in brief sessions during their normally scheduled Sunday Christian Formation classes. This experience allows them to learn at least two choral anthems per school year, one performed during the Nativity Pageant on Christmas Eve and the other on Easter Sunday or Pentecost.  

    Handbell Choir.  The Handbell Choir rings a partial 2-octave set of John Taylor handbells manufactured at Taylor’s Bell Foundry in Loughborough, England. The “Grace Handbells” were a gift to the church from a parishioner, and a portion of the set dates back to the early 1800s. The bells were refurbished in February, 2019 thanks to the generosity of another parishioner, and our newly formed bell choir meets at a mutually agreeable time to practice the intricate skills of proper English handbell ringing technique. The St. Paul’s Handbell Choir is a member of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers. Using only four to eight bells, the handbell choir rings the psalm on Sundays when a plainsong tone is sung. Our newest addition to the music ministry, the Handbell Choir is intent upon developing its repertoire and hopes to very quickly add the six missing bells to complete the 2-octave set.

    How to share your music gifts at St. Paul’s.  All St. Paul’s choirs welcome new members with open arms and loving hearts. Contact Linda Laughton, Director of Music at

Monetary gifts to the Music Ministry discretionary fund are always welcome.