Music @ St. John

Music is an important part of the life, work, and worship of St. John United Methodist Church. Music enables us to approach God using our senses as well as our intellects and, thus, to worship with our whole beings. St. John’s music program is designed to encourage this by giving participants the opportunity to deepen their spiritual lives as well as to develop their musical skills.

For more information on St. John's Music Ministry or to subscribe to St. John's weekly e-notes, please email George Butler, Minister of Music:  musicminister@stjohnatlanta.org

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Joy!

An old Gospel-style Sunday school song said this: “There is JOY in serving Jesus.” Our key to making music at St. John is JOY!

JOY is a fruit (result) of the Holy Spirit living in you (Galatians 5:22.) One of the most broad and generous invitations found in Scripture is “make a JOYFUL NOISE to the Lord!” (Psalm 100.) You will find JOY in the musical expression of this congregation; whether in the spontaneous singing of a joyful church at worship, or in the polished performance of those who lead worship or perform in our public concert series. We welcome you to explore our Ministry of Music here on this website but, more important, we invite you to attend or participate in the many opportunities for JOYFUL expression listed here. You may always visit any of our choirs listed here!

The Music Ministry of St. John is the home of :

  • The Chancel Choir
  • The Jubilee Ringers Handbell Choir
  • The St. John Sacred Concert Series
  • The Kazanetti String Quartet, www.kazanetti.com

The Music Ministry is proud to host these artistic endeavors:

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welcome to the St. John Chancel Choir

Rehearsals: Wednesdays at 7:15 - 8:45 pm

Worship: Gather at 10:00 am, service at 10:30 am

HISTORY: The tradition of choirs leading worship is older than the church itself. Nearly 3,000 years ago, (1,000 years prior to the founding of the Christian Church) hosts of singers were appointed to exult in worship at the new temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. In the early centuries of the church singing became more organized in a largely illiterate society. Today choral music is enjoyed at every level of ability and performance.

EXPECTATIONS: Rehearsals are intentional and efficient, but friendly and fun. Church choir is not boot camp. While musical results are excellent and inspiring, there is no expectation to “own your life.” We know there will be an occasional necessity to be absent. Musical preparations are made well enough in advance that the fear of missing a rehearsal need not cause a loss of sleep.

FOOD! The theme of JOY permeates our singing and the fellowship of our time together. Many rehearsals are embellished with light refreshments and once monthly (usually on the first Wednesday of the month) a light snack is served and enjoyed just prior to rehearsal. This takes the edge of your Atlanta commute and provides energy for the evening.

MORE ON WORSHIP: Because the choir is present and active in nearly every worship gathering, perhaps a perspective on how we view worship will be helpful.

• God is the audience; the people of the congregation are the performers; the musicians (choir, soloists, organist, etc.) are the producers and directors. On many occasions we may rejoice and say “YAY GOD” but the fact is, God is saying “YAY US!” When we worship “In spirit and in truth” (Jesus’ own words) and when a soul repents [and enters the Kingdom of Heaven,] there is “rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God.” (Jesus’ words again.) WHO is in the presence of the angels? The Lord God Himself! HE is the one rejoicing! How great is that, that we are privileged to lead a performance that merits GOD’S applause!

• There is NO outline for worship in the New Testament other than the example of the early church whose people continued “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.” There is no mention of music or worship outlines specifically. We are given the freedom to organize, create, rehearse and present worship in any way that will provide ministry in the lives of people and glory to God.

• There are some principles, however, that can guide us in creating lively, purposeful, Christ-honoring worship. The letter of the Apostle Paul to the church at Colossi asks us to “teach…one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord!” (Colossians 3:16.) This, I believe, provides a three-dimensional model for music in the church, allowing us to perform music that reaches the heart and that challenges our mind.

• Mind and spirit are partnered together in effective worship. St. Paul, in I Corinthians 14:15 encourages us to “pray with the spirit AND pray with our minds,” and to also “Sing with the spirit AND sing with our minds.” That is, we are most effective as worshippers and musicians when our intellect (mind) and our emotions (heart) meet in the presence of God.

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welcome to the st. john jubilee ringers handbell choir

Rehearsals: Wednesdays at 5:00 - 6:00 pm AND at 9:00 am on the Sundays the choir rings in worship

A really brief history of English hand-bells: In cities and villages throughout Europe for many centuries, the church was the center of life in the town and the church bells were the news media of the day. Different patterns of ringing would notify the town of a wedding, a funeral, a call to worship, or even an impending attack by marauders. In order to rehearse the sometimes-complex patterns of the change-ringing, smaller hand-held bells were produced, allowing those who would pull the ropes on the bells in the tower (weighing many tons in total) to practice in seclusion so as to avoid false alarms. The first tuned handbells were developed by brothers Robert and William Cor in Aldbourne, Wiltshire, England, between 1696 and 1724.

The Cor brothers, for reasons unknown, began tuning their bells more finely to have an accurate fundamental tone, and fitted them with hinged clappers that moved only in one plane. Of course we’re speaking here of a diatonically tuned set of bells whose harmony will correspond one to the other. We are aware that small hand held bells for temple, church, school, or the old town crier have been in existence from the earliest times.

Physical Fun! The making of music in a hand-bell choir is unique, in that a single ringer is responsible for 1, 2, or possibly 3 or 4 notes, unlike playing, say, clarinet or violin, where one is responsible for the full range of melody. The technique is simple, but the ability to play one’s note in time and at the right time! so that melody and harmony match throughout the group admittedly requires a bit of practice!

Rehearsals normally take place in the Bell Rehearsal Room in the backstage area of Fellowship Hall. Rehearsals will be in the sanctuary, when possible, on the Wednesday just prior to a performance.

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