Welcome to the music ministry page at St. Paul’s
Grace Notes — By Linda Laughton, Music Director (email@example.com)
For this Christmas issue of the church newsletter I want to talk about the virtual singing the choir has been providing during the Covid shutdown. The choir was challenged when the concept of live singing in a church setting was singled out as a prime contender for virus transmission. Unable to sing live in a choral setting, many of our choir members instead have been recording their voices in a solo environment, usually in the home setting, singing while listening to an accompaniment track through headphones. The process of assembling these individual recorded tracks into one song is referred to as “virtual choir singing.”
I want to share feedback from the choir about the work we have been doing over the past eight months to make these virtual choir anthems and hymns. I asked the singers for a few sentences about positive things they have learned relating to their experiences singing and recording their voices at home:
Allison: It has been a strange experience to sing hymns at home alone, and a humbling one to listen to the recordings of my lone voice. But the magic happens when Linda blends each recording with other voices, and suddenly we are a choir again. It has been an education! The vocal training that Linda has provided in rehearsals really comes into play. Once you have heard your solo self taking a breath or hitting a sour note, everything she has been telling us really makes sense! “Singing together” brings us a sense of community and purpose, and I am grateful beyond measure for the opportunity.
George: Singing during a pandemic, I learned to listen carefully to my voice. Before, I preferred not to! Singing my voice part, listening for errors, re-singing and continuing to improve the recording to submit to Linda, has helped me to focus on what my music directors have taught me in the past and improve my voice. Also, as a member of the Choir, I never have an opportunity to just listen to the music of a church service. In St Paul’s videos it is joy to hear how Linda uses her magic to combine our separate voices into one harmonious song — without the pressure of live performance!
Glenn: I’ve learned a lot more about recording and editing, but it’s all technical stuff. I am enjoying using sound recording and editing skills I learned professionally now in a non-work environment. To use these skills to the glory of God is a privilege and pleasure.
Jane: I am just amazed how Linda puts all our voices together and we sound great! I miss singing in person and seeing everyone but this is the next best thing.
Jim: As a new member of St. Paul’s Church, I found that being part of the choir was a wonderful way to begin to feel connected to the worship experience, and a great way to get to know new friends. When Covid came along, it seemed that we would lose the opportunity to sing together, but Linda quickly offered us a way to sing by recording our individual parts from home. The first time that I heard my own voice, singing solo and without accompaniment, I was truly humbled and more than a bit mortified. Gradually, as the weeks have gone by, and with Linda’s magic guiding us, our St. Paul’s choir has continued to sing, and to improve. I have found that, by listening to my own voice, and as I practice, repeat, and re-record, I think that I am becoming a better singer, but KNOW that I will be a better choir member once we are able to be together again.
St. Paul’s singers are a dauntless breed! Any singer will tell you that virtual singing falls far short of the live choral experience, yet it is a means that allows us to continue to use our singing voices for the time being, and allows us to fulfill an important part of our choral mission to support the weekly Sunday morning worship services. I thank the choir singers for sharing their insights about the process. I pray that we may sing together live and in person very soon. Until that day, I pray that our virtual work continues to bless and encourage you during your time of worship.
Merry Christmas and Bless! Bless! – Linda
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 OneLicense.net.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Monetary gifts to the Music Ministry discretionary fund are always welcome.