Music as prayer
At St. Dunstan’s music plays an integral role in our traditional worship because we believe that music, especially singing, is prayer which can include everyone. The gathered People of God sing together each week in hymns, which are works of poetry set to simple melodies and sung to praise God, as well as other settings of our ancient liturgical texts. At other times, one of our choirs will represent the praises of the congregation through more carefully prepared and beautiful music, which give everyone an opportunity to participate by reflecting on the words, drawn from scripture or elsewhere in our tradition. Due to its important association with our worship tradition, we also use the organ to lead the singing of hymns, or to accompany the choir, or in the playing of "voluntaries", or solos. As we listen to this music without words, we are led in preparing for worship, reflecting on the Word of God, or taking the gifts of worship into the world.
The traditional music ministries of St. Dunstan’s are intentionally rooted in the British cathedral tradition. The hymns that the whole congregation sings each week have words and melodies that go back 200 years, 500 years, or even millennia into the Hebrew Psalms. The choral and organ music likewise is chosen from a diverse and ancient repertoire, while including the greatest music of today formed in that tradition. Through this music, we worship God in beauty - that is, whether we join boldly in a hymn or appreciate a voluntary attentively, the glimpses of goodness and truth offer us a real-time encounter with Christ’s incarnate divinity as God-with-us. And the traditional music program seeks to create avenues where everyone can share in that encounter through music by offering the best of their talents and by building those talents to the Glory of God Alone.
St. Dunstan’s Parish Choir is an ensemble of volunteer singers from St. Dunstan’s and the wider Houston community that performs regularly at the 11:00am Traditional Eucharist, as well as at other services and events through the year. Through the singing of choral music, such as anthems, Psalms, antiphons, and chants, the dedicated talent and effort of this group of parishioners represent the community giving its best to God. Those singers who participate in the Parish Choir offer prayer of great beauty on behalf of the gathered People of God.
Through singing in the Parish Choir, participants deepen their lived faith and learn about music and worship. They make new friends and enjoy abiding relationships with old ones, as everyone develops their talents as an offering to God. All are welcome to participate, whether you have years of experience and training in singing, or if your only experience is with your hymnal. All that is expected of members is the weekly time commitment and a positive attitude with an openness to learning about music.
Interested singers may speak at any time to the Choir Director. They will be welcomed to visit a rehearsal and see what is involved with preparation for worship, and those with less experience will be helped with determining best voice placement. Once a new member feels confident about the choral experience at St. Dunstan’s, they can be assigned materials and begin singing regularly. We have a warm and welcoming group, and we’d love to have you join us, whether for an evening or for years!
The Choir Fellows program is a professional ensemble of four high school students and four experienced adult musicians. It is designed to give exceptional youth an introduction to the Anglican choral patrimony and to the disciplines of professional musicianship. They sing as a supplement to the Parish Choir as well as an independent ensemble, performing at services and events through the year.
The choir is open to auditioned high school-aged musicians from the wider Houston area, and runs through the academic year. Auditions are offered as positions become available. For more information and for openings, please contact the Choir Director.