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By now most church choral programs are back from summer break, but if you're like me, you probably haven't completed the repertoire list for your fall/winter season, and you still haven't found that "perfect" anthem for a service.

There is, of course, no shortage of good carols and anthems for Christmas: You could perform a new Christmas anthem every service for the next decade and still not perform all that is available within your lifetime. This has not been the case with music for Advent. I encourage choir directors to get a copy of "Advent for Choirs," a collection that will reassure you that there is a wealth of material.

The edition of the well-known, "Bless thou the Lord" by Mikhail Ippolitoff-Ivanov I've recommended below includes Slavonic as well as English. I urge every one to familiarize themselves with the repertoire of the Russian Church, which has been made more accessible since the end of the Cold War. ECS Publishing, Paraclete Press, and Musica Russica have begun to make this corpus of Russian Music available.

1. "Advent for Choirs" compiled and edited by Malcolm Archer and Stephen Cleobury, #353025-2, Oxford University Press.

Here is a wonderful collection for the season of Advent which includes 52 selections--and I got them for less than $15! What a bargain! There are old favorites here, such as: "E'en so Lord Jesus" by Paul Manz; "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" by Elizabeth Poston, "How beautiful upon the mountains" by Sir John Stainer among others. There are also some gems, which are either new or have not seen the light of day in recent years. Among these are: "Bogoroditse Dyevo" by Arvo Paert; "This is the Record of John" by Grayston Ives; "Jacob's Ladder" by Stephen Darlington; and the little jewel of Otto Goldschmidt--"A Tender Shoot."

2. "Sweet Was the Song" by Larry Reynolds, #AE97, Aureole editions, available through Morning Star. (treble solo, unison choir, flute and organ)

Here is a simple and charming setting of an anonymous 17th century text, by a director well known in the greater Minneapolis area. This is a perfect anthem for a carol service or Christmas Eve.

3. "Love Bade Me Welcome" by Roland E. Martin (SATB/organ), St. James Music Press.

Ron Martin has composed an exquisite anthem, written for the 1998 Sewanee Church Music Conference in Tennessee, for the famous text by George Herbert. It is suitable for any service of Holy Communion.

4. "Be Still and Know That I Am God" by Antony Baldwin, #386252-2, Oxford University Press, (SATB/Soprano Solo).

This is an extremely effective setting of the tenth verse of Psalm 46. It was composed for Dr. John Fenstermaker and the choir of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. It would be useful as an introit or perhaps a prayer response.

5. "The Record of John" by David Hurd, 12-400006, Augsburg/Fortress, Two part mixed choir with baritone solo.

For those directors who do not have the forces to sing the Gibbons setting of this text, here is a hauntingly beautiful anthem. Most of the choral writing is for unison or two-part choir with a baritone solo. It is suitable for that Sunday in Advent devoted to John the Baptist.

6. "Wide, Wide in the Rose's Side" by Joel Martinson, PPM09405, Paraclete Press, SATB with soprano solo.

Here is a Christmas Lullaby set to a text of Kenneth Patchen by Joel Martinson, a young composer in Dallas. The choral writing is scored for four-part choir with a short soprano solo. It would be a welcome addition to any carol service or for Christmas Eve.

7. "The House of Faith Has Many Rooms" by Craig Phillips, #410-691, Selah Publishing, SATB/organ.

Here is another terrific anthem from Craig Phillips, who is on the staff of All Saints' Church, Beverly Hills. The text is from the pen of Carl Daw, Jr., a well-known hymn writer, and current president of the Hymn Society of America. This anthem was commissioned by the Mississippi Church Music Conference in 1998.

8. "My Song Shall Be Always" by Hubert Bird, #000301, Schaffner Limited Editions, SATB/organ.

This anthem was commissioned by the Music Series of South Church, New Britain, Conn., where Richard Coffey is the music director. Mr. Bird sang in the South Church choir for a number of years. The text is a paraphrase of Psalm 89 which is the psalm appointed for the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.

9. "Bless Thou the Lord O My Soul" by Mikhail Ippolitoff-Ivanov, #5150, ECS Publishing, SATB.

Here is a new edition of the old war horse by A. Antolini. Both English and Slavonic texts are provided. Challenge your choirs to learn Church Slavonic. Once you have heard and performed this anthem in its original language, you will not want to hear it in English again.

10. "O Taste and See" by Carlton Young,AG7282, Hope Publishing Co., unison/organ.

Here is another simple and effective anthem based on Psalm 34:8, by the talented Carlton Young. It would suitable for communion or when this particular psalm is used in the lectionary.

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