Music at St. Mark’s
Music is a vital part of the spiritual life we share together at St. Mark’s. We worship God through hymns, anthems, and instrumental music. The words that we sing inform and deepen our faith. Our music helps to bind us together as a local community, and also connects us to the wider church universal. We sing and hear music from all times and places—music written centuries ago and by living composers, music in the Anglican tradition and music from other cultures and in other styles, music that connects us to the faith journeys of God’s children throughout history.
We have two choirs, Adult and Choristers (children’s choir), and both play a crucial role in leading us in the musical parts of our liturgy. They are a constant reminder that our gathering for worship brings us into communion with all the saints and angels who forever sing the praises of God in heaven.
The Adult Choir sings great choral music in a variety of styles and genres. Our repertoire is grounded in the Anglican choral tradition and also includes selections from the classical, modern, folk, spiritual, and gospel styles. In addition to singing at the 11:00 a.m. service during the academic year, the Adult Choir sings for special liturgies surrounding Advent, Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost, Confirmation, and All Saints.
The Adult Choir rehearses on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30 in the Common Room. Membership in the Adult Choir is open to anyone in high school or older. We are a group of fun and dedicated individuals, with varying levels of choral experience, who enjoy each other’s company and who share a love for music. The choir is like an extended family within the broader community of the church—we invite you to join us!
Choristers & Youth Ensemble
The St. Mark’s Choristers are a group of children who enjoy singing, learning about music and worship, playing games, and having lots of fun! By participating in Choristers, children not only develop their musical skills, but they also strengthen their faith by joining a community and building friendships within the church.
The Choristers sing approximately once a month at the 9:00 a.m. service during the academic year. They also participate in festive liturgies such as Lessons and Carols and Palm Sunday.
Youth Ensemble is geared towards students in grades sixth-eighth. Practices are usually on Sundays after the late service on an as-needed basis, and the ensemble performs a few times during the year.
Rehearsals are Wednesday evenings from 6:00 – 6:45 PM. Membership in the Choristers is open to children from kindergarten through fifth grade.
The organ is the primary instrument of worship at St. Mark’s. The organ can intone the most thunderous of praise and the soft whisper of God’s “still, small voice.” The organ leads our hymns of praise and accompanies most choral anthems. The prelude and postlude include great organ literature spanning the centuries.
The piano is used more frequently at the 9:00 a.m. service, helping to create a more intimate and informal worship atmosphere. The piano also accompanies choral anthems in folk, spiritual, and gospel styles.
Parishioners who play instruments are encouraged to contact the Director of Music about opportunities to use their gifts in worship. Instrumentalists play preludes and offertories, and can also accompany the choir.
Musical Terms in the Worship Service
A voluntary is a piece of instrumental music heard during the service. A voluntary can be played by the organ, piano, or any other instrument. The most common voluntaries are the prelude (music as we gather for worship), postlude (music as we depart from the service), and offertory (instrumental music as the Altar is prepared for Communion and the collection plates are passed).
A hymn is a congregational song of prayer or praise. Most of our hymns are found in The Hymnal 1982. The Hymnal is divided into two parts. The “S numbers” at the beginning of the hymnal are for musical settings of the liturgical words from the Prayer Book, such as the Gloria and Sanctus. These are songs that we sing almost every week. The rest of the Hymnal includes songs about all aspects of our Christian life. The hymns are chosen to expand on the ideas found in the Bible readings for the day.
The Worship & Rejoice Hymnal is used approximately twice a month at the 9:00 a.m. service. This book includes songs in a variety of styles, focusing especially on congregational songs from the folk and renewal traditions.
A cantor helps to lead the congregation in song. At the 9:00 a.m. service, the cantor sings from the lectern in place of the choir.
An anthem is a sacred choral song. The choir usually sings an anthem at the offertory and sometimes during Communion.
Mark Reed directs the Adult Choir and Choristers. If you are interested in singing with one of the choirs or playing an instrument in church, please contact Mark by email or by phone (512-203-1780). You are always invited to stop by the choir loft after the Sunday service to find out more information about the ways you can get involved in the music ministry.