Guest post by Emily Woock.
Not too long ago my small (ten voice) children’s choir was scheduled to sing for the Fourth after Epiphany and I searched high and low trying to find a setting of the Beatitudes that would be appropriate for them. I really wanted something other than "Blest Are They" from All God's People Sing, but I wasn’t finding anything that would work well for children, let alone something that would work with only three rehearsals after just coming back from Christmas break.
I reached out to my friend and colleague Phillip Magness to see if he had a recommendation, and he suggested his setting of the Beatitudes from Liturgy Solutions and sent me a copy to preview. I knew right away that this piece was perfect for my group and purchased it immediately. It was simple enough to learn in three rehearsals, but still beautiful and interesting for the singers. As an added bonus, there were many teachable moments built right into the piece.
My choristers responded very favorably to this piece, excitedly pointing out to me (as if I hadn’t noticed!) that there were repeated phrases that “have the same notes but different words.” This was done without any prompting from me. Several of them left that first rehearsal humming the melody, so I felt confident they could pull this off in time since it was clearly sticking with them.
I have a practice of marking my young choristers' bulletins ahead of time so they can be confident in their leadership role during worship, and I also try to help them make connections to various things in the service or about the season, often putting little notes in the bulletin of things for them to think about. On this particular , I wrote simply “Do you notice something?” right next to the Gospel text. I watched with delight as heads snapped to attention one by one as the Gospel was read and they made the connection that the Gospel text was the same text as our anthem. Several winked or made a face at me as if they were in on some big secret just because they were in the choir, and one of my very youngest singers ran over to me during the passing of the peace, unable to wait until the end of the service to exclaim, “Miss Woock! Pastor said the same words that we are singing!” They got it!
This wonderful arrangement was a joy for my choristers to experience, fit beautifully within the Divine Service that morning, and left me one happy cantor that there was so much teaching mileage packed into a single anthem. Thank you, Liturgy Solutions, for providing resources like this.