Message from Jesse Ratcliffe, Director of Music

“How often, making music, we have found a new dimension in the world of sound, as worship moved us to a more profound Alleluia!” When in Our Music God is Glorified … Fred Pratt Green (1903-2000)

During the last three years it has been a privilege and a joy to watch and hear the music at Saint James’ develop into a robust extension of our liturgy. The adult choir has grown into a vibrant and supportive group of folks who love each other and love to sing. The Saint James’ Youth Chorale began two years ago with only five members and now has tripled in size, and the choristers have brought home a trophy from an adjudicated event! The fun-loving handbell ringers have adjusted to my direction and are eager to learn more music and ring at more events inside and outside the church. Lastly, as I’ve said before, it is the strong and full-voiced congregational singing that makes our services so special.

Festival Eucharist in May 2015
Festival Eucharist in May 2015

In recent conversation, many members of the adult choir as well as handbell ringers have voiced how eager they are to resume rehearsals and to learn new music for the coming year. Our goal is not to make two-dimensional music. That is, solely learn pitches and rhythms, but to make the music three-dimensional. That is, in every rehearsal we spend a few moments reflecting on the social and musical history encompassing a composition; as well as discuss the text and how we as singers or ringers can amplify the author’s imagery. Once we have a firm grasp on how to communicate the composer’s intentions, we are able to add a layer of beauty to the liturgy.

If are you or your children are interested in participating in any of the music ensembles at Saint James’, please contact me and plan to join our next rehearsal!

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The Adult Choir perform at their annual Christmas concert in December 2015

The adult choir meets from 7-8:30 on Thursday nights. We sing almost every Sunday morning from September through Pentecost. At each rehearsal we spend the first 30 minutes in sectionals to learn notes and rhythms then combine for the remaining hour to polish the music. Some highlights for the year ahead are a combined All-Saints Evensong with Grace, The Plains on November 5 at 7PM. The annual Lessons and Carols Service will be held on Dec 11 at 4PM, and a second Festival Eucharist on May 21 at 10:15 with glorious Anglican music.

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Saint James’ Youth Chorale rehearses before a performance

The Saint James Youth Chorale has expanded to include students from second through eighth grade. Rehearsals will be held on Thursdays, with the older students in sixth-eighth grade rehearsing from 3:15-4:15 and the younger students from 3:45-4:45. Both groups will overlap for 30 minutes to allow for three-part singing-an exciting venture for these young singers! Tuition for the year is set at $40 per month and scholarships are available for those in need. The chorale will join the adult choir for Lessons and Carols and the Festival Eucharist, but they will also do two “traveling tours”-one this fall featuring Patriotic and American Music at local assisted living facilities as well as at Saint James’. The second tour will be late spring at our home church and local Episcopal Churches.

The handbell ringers are excited to get their hands on their newly-refurbished handbells! This group of dedicated musicians rehearses on Tuesdays from 7-8PM. Our schedule is flexible through the year, but we aim to ring at every festival service as well as Lessons and Carols. An audition is not necessary, neither is the ability to read music.

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