Music at Christ & Saint Stephen's Church
Sing to the Lord a new song... Psalm 96:1
It is often said “he who sings prays twice.” Saint Augustine usually receives credit for the adage and, while there is no evidence that he used those exact words, it is easy to see why he would receive the attribution. Augustine had a high view of the relationship between worship and music and expressed it when he said, “he who sings praise, does not only praise, but also praises joyfully” and, “in the song of the lover there is love.” Augustine understood that when God is the subject, the lover offers something of his very being to the creator through the song.
Music is much more than an ornament to worship, it is worship itself. And when we offer music at the altar we are offering it not to an audience, or even to a congregation, but to God. Each Sunday, the prelude is the beginning of our worship, for it helps us prepare to enter more fully into God’s presence in and through our worship and can often convey feelings of adoration that words alone cannot express. At the end of the service, music helps express our thanks to God for the grace we have shared at his altar.
Of course, worshippers incorporated music in worship long before liturgical theologians began discussing its merits. Ancient psalms tell us to “serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song” (Ps. 100:1) and the faithful have been doing it ever since.
From September through to the end of June, we continue to celebrate the rich musical tradition of our Anglican heritage, with our all-professional choir singing a rich variety of anthems from the Renaissance period through the 20th Century to newly commissioned works by some of Americans leading composers. The choir also sings the appointed psalms and select movements from the Mass setting, in addition to leading the singing of hymns and the congregational portions of the Mass setting.
Through out the season, the choir also sings a variety of Special Services, including a Solemn Requiem for All Souls, an Advent Lessons & Carols Service, in additional to the extra services of Christmas, Holy Week and Easter.
Music at Christ & Saint Stephen’s also hosts a variety of concerts and musical events which not only feature our staff organists, but nationally and internationally renowned concert musicians. In recent seasons we have hosted: Organists - Thomas Murray, Bruce Neswick, Isabelle Demers, David Enlow, Benjamin Sheen, Christopher Houlihan, Paul Jacobs, and Nigel Potts (as well as staff organist Parker Ramsey); The Ullern Chamber Choir from Oslo, Norway; The Guildford Cathedral Choir of Men & Boys (UK); St. Salvator's Chapel Choir, University of St. Andrews, Scotland; Tenor Gregory Lorenz; Mezzo-Soprano Sarah Rose Taylor; Pianist/Organist Jeremy Filsell; Italian Pianist Sandro Russo and Guitarist Jerry Willard. The professional choir has also performed in concert with guest conductor Paul Spicer from England.
Our exceptional organ was designed and built by the San Francisco Company of Schoenstein & Co. in 2008, the first of its kind in New York City, and full details (including a CD and demo video) of this remarkable instrument can be read and viewed on our Schoenstein Organ page.
We give thanks to God for the gift of music and for the talented musicians who offer their gifts in this, the oldest church of our music loving neighborhood.
We hope that you will join us to “Sing to the LORD a new song.” (Ps. 96:1). And may God be praised.