Music

"Grant that what we sing with our lips we may believe in our hearts..." ( The Chorister's Prayer )

Music is an integral part of worship at First Church. Congregational singing is hearty and inspired by the support of two magnificent pipe organs. Concerts at First Church and other special programs extend an invitation to the greater Columbus community to be nourished by the gift of music in First Church’s majestic space.

 

 

Music & Worship

Singing and making music for the praise of God has been recorded throughout Scripture. The morning stars sang at the beginning of Creation. Moses, Miriam, and the Israelites sang at the Exodus. King David appointed 4,000 musicians to lead the praise of God in the Temple. Pregnant Mary greeted her cousin Elizabeth with the song that would be forever known as the Magnificat. Angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds with the song “Glory to God in the highest.” In 1 Corinthians 14:26 Paul lists the elements needed for worship, and the first one is a hymn.

Throughout the history of First Church, music has been an integral part of worship. While the organs and choirs significantly add their voices to worship, the most important voice of all is the congregational singing of hymns. Designed by John Russell Pope and dedicated in 1931, the soaring Gothic Revival architecture of First Church allows an acoustic that encourages congregational singing, promotes extraordinary choral singing, and renders the two world-class, independent pipe organs positively exciting.

For many years First Church has enjoyed sacred classical (traditional) music, promoted by outstanding church musicians. The quality of the music inspires those attending worship services and attracts many from the community.

 

Click the button below to read about the History of music at First Church.

Hymnals & Hymnal Supplements

The New Century Hymnal (1995) is used in the less formal worship service in the Parish Hall at 9 a.m. Hymns, Psalms, & Spiritual Songs (1990) is the main hymnal used in the more formal 11 a.m. service.

 

In One Voice (2021), a hymnal supplement, was created by a committee of First Church members, who sang through hundreds of hymns, studied texts and tunes, and chose hymns that would reflect our emphases on social justice, mission, openness, affirmation, and welcome for all. 152 hymns and 22 pieces of service music reflect today’s church in these changing times, the concerns of God’s children around the world, and the challenges of following Jesus today. In One Voice does not replace the other two hymnals in use at First Church. Instead, the supplement provides new texts by modern poets, more women, people of color and different cultures, all to give us more opportunities to sing our faith.

 

For generations, the First Church music program has been under the able leadership of a professional Minister of Music, working full time. The last person in that position was Kevin Jones, who served for almost ten years and recently moved to a new position. The congregation is engaged in a search process for its next Minister of Music and is presently being served by a team of able musicians.

 

 

First Church Choir

The First Church Choir (adult, mixed) is currently under the leadership of Jim Gallagher, retired Ohio State University choral conductor and clinician. The Choir sings at the 11 a.m. service on Sunday. Rehearsals are held in the Parish Hall on Thursdays, 7:15-9:15 p.m. and on Sunday mornings in the Choir Room before worship. The Choir alternates singing from the Gallery and the Chancel, depending on the service of the day. Professional section leaders assist the musicianship and sound as the Choir explores five centuries of great choral music. The Choir also participates in the Concerts at First Church series, Christmas Lessons & Carols, special music for Christmas, Holy Week, and Easter Day. The Choir was in residence at Gloucester Cathedral, UK in 2015, Norwich and Lincoln Cathedrals in 2018, Chichester and Winchester Cathedrals in 2022. They regularly sang the service of Evensong on the third Sunday of each month and hope to do so again with the next Minister of Music.

Jubilate Choir and Exultate Choir

The Children’s Choirs are currently in recess, following the closing of the church during the Covid epidemic and now awaiting our new leadership.

The Jubilate Choir (children in grades 2 through 5) and the Exultate Choir (youth in grades 6 through 12) sing at the 11 a.m. service on one or more Sundays of each month and rehearse at 9 a.m. during the choir season, September through mid-May. If they wish, members may attend grade appropriate Christian Education classes between their rehearsal and 11 a.m. worship. Choristers develop their singing voices and music reading skills using the Royal School of Church Music curriculum, Voice for Life. They learn about the church and the liturgical seasons, as well as ways in which music and musicians enhance worship for all. The Jubilate Choir regularly sings in two parts, and the Exultate Choir often in four parts, occasionally joining the First Church Choir. A co-director works with the Minister of Music to lead these ensembles. Knowing the benefits for all young people being involved in music and worship, First Church is seeking  a leader who will organize, train, and give our young people an opportunity to serve, to learn, and to worship through music.

The First Church Ringers

The First Church Ringers is an adult handbell choir that rings five octaves of Whitechapel bells (some of the first handbells in Ohio) and five octaves of Malmark choir chimes. Rehearsals are held on Thursday evenings in the Education Wing, Room J and the group participates in worship once a month. The bell ringers are currently led by an experienced bell choir conductor, who is a member of the First Church Choir, and plans music and the schedule of ringing with the Minister of Music.

 

 

The Organs

First Church is blessed to be one of the few churches in North America with two world-class organs, totaling over 8100 pipes!

Learn more about these magnificent instruments by clicking below.

 

The Harpsichord & Pianos

In addition to the two outstanding pipe organs, First Church has a two-manual French-style harpsichord, modeled after one by Pascal Taskin in 1769). Built by member Ben Bechtel before his death in 2008, this instrument is used in concerts and frequently rented by the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, as well as other area groups.

 

First Church owns four grand pianos and several console and upright pianos. In addition, the church houses a Steinway Concert Grand, reputed to be one of the best pianos in Columbus; owned by the Columbus Chamber Music Society, it remains in the Nave for our use unless loaned out for other events.

Concerts at First Church

A tradition for more than 50 years, Concerts at First Church has presented some of the best organists in this country as well as around the world. There have also been exceptional choral concerts with instrumental ensembles and some using both organs at the same time. The Concert Series is generously funded by donations apart from the church budget.

Click below for information about the 2022-2023 Season.

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