The collection of over 50 accessible pieces has been assembled with ordinary choirs in mind, including those with limitations on the numbers of available voices. It draws on music spanning thousands of years from the Psalms of David to spirituals moulded out of the slave trade era and contemporary songs. Some psalm compositions are for congregation and choir, including Psalm 23 and a lively setting of Psalm 150 by John Barnard, himself a highly-regarded hymn-tune composer.
This collection also contains a number of songs from composers such as Stuart Townend and Graham Kendrick; most such as Kendrick’s ‘Here is bread’ have been arranged for three or four part choir. Speaking in a podcast on the RSCM website (www.rscm.com/media), John Barnard says that he hopes choirs who tend to reject this style of music will like the fact that they can sing it in harmony. John Barnard thinks harmony of a deeper kind could occur in churches where tastes differ. “I hope it will be bridge-building within those church communities that tend to pull one way or the other.”
David Iliff, currently Organist at Great Malvern Priory, hopes the pieces will add to church services. “Hymns are excellent but they tend to be ‘of a kind’ and we feel the variety offered by these songs, psalms and spirituals adds a richness to worship that’s often missed out.”
Songs Psalms & Spirituals comes with a CD-ROM containing two and three part arrangements of some items including many for sopranos, altos and men. Like the previous collections from the same team, The RSCM Carol Book, The RSCM Carol Book Supplement, and Season by Season, churches and schools with a Christian Copyright Licence (CCLI) may photocopy these pieces - something which schools will find invaluable. “We know the financial pressure on schools these days,” says John Barnard. “We believe we’re supplying the kind of material they can use, and that the latest collection will certainly appeal.”
The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) is an educational charity that promotes the best use of music in churches of all denominations and the wider community. The RSCM also publishes music and training resources, and organises courses, short workshops and activities. With around 8,500 affiliates, members and friends in over 40 countries, it is an international network, supported by over 600 volunteers and a small team of staff based throughout the UK. For more information see: http://www.rscm.com