The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.
Johann Sebastian Bach
I decided to put my top ten favorite Religious Choral arrangements here. My soul delights in singing Spiritual music, but if I’m unable to sing it, listening is almost as good!
1. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
An 18th Century Christian hymn composed by Robert Robinson. This is an arrangement by then BYU professor Mack Wilberg (now Mormon Tabernacle Choir conductor.) This concert, by the BYU Combined Choruses in 1994 is one that touched me very deeply, though this isn’t the best copy. I believe that this was the first time this arrangement was performed.
2. Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring
Written in the early eighteenth century by Johann Sebastian Bach as part of a Cantata for his Church in Leipzig, Germany. This particular performance is from the group, Celtic Woman.
3. Ave Maria
This version is by Franz Xaver Biebl, a German Classical Music Composer, written in 1964. I sang this in the University Choir and it became one of my favorites. This concert is from the De La Salle University Chorale conducted by Prof. Rodolfo Delarmente. I am unsure of the date, and it is simply pictures put to the music, but it is such an ethereal arrangement that I had to post it.
4. Pie Jesu
This was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber in his Requiem Mass 1985. It is sung here by Norwegian Soprano, Sissel. While I prefer this piece as a duet, her rendition is exquisite.
5. O Holy Night
This very popular hymn was written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847 and the music composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847. The concert seen here is King’s College Cambridge in 2003.
6. The Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah
It’s difficult to choose only one piece to represent George Frideric Handel’s magnificent Oratorio The Messiah (1741). However I chose the Hallelujah chorus for the lines – King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He shall reign forever and ever.
I also love it because of the two century old tradition that everybody stands when it is played. King George II stood when the first notes were played in the London Premiere. I like to believe that it was because he was paying respect to the fact that he too, was subject to Jesus Christ, King of Kings.
This video is from a concert in Hong Kong, I believe. It was entitled, Seasons Greetings in the Park 2006. I choose this particular performance because when I first watched it, I was reminded again that the Savior performed his Atonement for everyone and that the Gospel is Universal.
7. If the Savior Stood Beside Me
Several years ago I was a teacher in the Primary (children ages 3-11) and we were learning this song for the Primary Program. I couldn’t get through it. Ever. I still can’t.
Written by Sally DeFord for her daughter’s baptism (1993?), this performance is from the Young Women General Meeting in 2007.
8. My Shepherd Will Supply My Needs
A beautiful hymn by Issac Watts (1719), the melody is from Southern Harmony (1835) and this arrangement is by Mack Wilberg (approx. 1990’s). The song is sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They are such a glorious group.
My favorite line – No more a stranger, nor a guest, But like a child at home.
9. The Lord Bless You and Keep You
John Rutter’s Arrangement of the hymn, sung by the Brighton Concert Choir 2004. This was one that we sang in choir in High School. I will forever love a music teacher who filled us with beautiful, sacred choral pieces at such a difficult age.
10. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
I first sang this with the Mormon Youth Choir. While performing it one day, I decided to go on a mission because I realized that I wanted to tell the world of my testimony and love for my Savior. Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
Text by Issac Watts (1707) and the tune is Hamburg by Lowell Mason (1824).
This video is from the Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s from a series that they produced called With Joyful Hearts: The Stories of the Hymns. It basically tells the history, theology, and poetry of the hymn. It is long, but very beautiful. The hymn in its entirety is found at about 6:30 and the words are listed while they sing.
Where there is devotional music, God is always at hand with His gracious presence.
J. S. Bach