Songs for Choirs

Please contact me at asher.rick@gmail.com if you would like to see the music to or arrange for performance of any of the these choral pieces. I’ll soon include more description of some of these pieces.

SATB: Gae Out and Bar the Door This is a setting of very old ballad lyrics that tell the story of a squabble between a husband and wife over who will bar the door.

Heart Not So Heavy as Mine (poem by Emily Dickinson) SATB non divisi; with piano and whistler or piccolo. I love this poem and created a nineteenth century style “tune” for whistler or piccolo as the basis for the composition. It is in several sections with music that  is intended to match the mood of each section.

Just in the St. Nick of Time (Lyrics by Rick Asher) The original version of this song, listed on the Solo Songs page was so much fun to sing that I decided to arrange it for SA, SSA and SATB – now everyone gets a chance to work their way through this tongue twister! Here are the lyrics, and you can find the music in its solo version on the Solo Songs page. Just in the St. Nick of Time lyrics

Psallite (Lyrics by Praetorius) Click the Soundcloud bar to hear a recording by Seattle’s Choral Arts, under the superb conducting of Robert Bode, of my “Psallite” which they premiered. The lyrics, written around 1600, combine simple poems in German and Latin, both describing the manger birth and singing praises to the baby. The soprano soloists sing in German, the choir in Latin.

Two Psalms: SATB non divisi; piano or organ accompaniment. These are not full Psalms, but selections from Psalm 40 and Psalm 71, respectively

  1. Withhold Not Thy Tender Mercies
  2.  Thou Art My Trust
    Click here to hear Seattle’s superb “Camerata”, directed by John Hendrix with Randi Teigland-Hendrix playing the piano part. This was recorded in concert on March 2, 2013. Click here to see the sheet music: Thou Art My Trust

We Hear Your Voice, O Christ (Text by Jim Segaar) When I learned of a church-sponsored contest for a new Easter anthem I contacted my friend Jim Segaar and requested that he write the lyrics for me to set to music. It’s for choir with organ and trumpet. Jim’s fine lyrics start with the mystery of the morning of Christ’s resurrection and moves to jubilant celebration as it calls all of us to rise with Christ. Oh, yeah, we didn’t win the competition but the song was premiered by the Choir of Seattle First Baptist Church, Vicky Thomas, Director.

We Just Need Each Other for Christmas (formerly titled “Christmas Questions”) (text by Rick Asher) SATB with some divisi; piano accompaniment. Also available as a vocal solo, on my Solo Songs page.

SSATBB

Amazing Grace This is an arrangement of the beloved hymn which was written for Choral Arts Northwest at the request of their fine director, Robert Bode. After starting in a very abstract style, it moves through folk-style solos followed by a very intense setting of the “many dangers, trials and snares” verse, and finally concluding with the audience joining in for two verses with gospel piano backing. Here is Choral Arts Northwests’ recording from the concert in May, 2017.  https://soundcloud.com/rick-asher/amazing-grace

Behold the Handmaid (on a text by Robert Bode) This piece was commissioned by Choral Arts Northwest, conducted by Robert Bode. Here’s a recording of their beautiful performance:

Of Stars and the Heavens unaccompanied. This is a suite of four pieces that are settings of nineteenth century poems. The recordings here are from the superb performance of this suite by Seattle’s Choral Arts, Robert Bode, director, at their concert on October 6, 2012.

1. The Infinite Shining Heavens (text by Robert Louis Stevenson)

Click here to see the lyrics: The Infinite Shining Heavens lyrics

2. Lightly Stepped a Yellow Star (text by Emily Dickinson)

Click here to see the lyrics:Lightly Stepped a Yellow Star lyrics

3. Bright Star (text by John Keats)


Click here to see the lyrics: Bright Star lyrics

4. A Clear Midnight (text by Walt Whitman)

Click here to see the lyrics: A Clear Midnight lyrics

The Virgin Mary Had Baby Boy (arrangement of traditional spiritual) with optional percussion. It features a soloist who has to be both a fine singer and a great comedian, and I have to admit that the choral parts – while great fun to sing – are pretty challenging.

Memorial (a setting of a poem by Robert Bode) This is a very challenging and dramatic piece of music. I was very inspired by the tragic beauty of Robert’s words. Here is the poem: Memorial

What Do You Want, Mary? (A setting of a 1920′s poem by Anna Margolin, a German, Jewish, Yiddish speaking poet) This is a very dramatic setting of a remarkable poem which presents ideas of the possible thoughts of Mary, mother of Jesus, as a young wife. It was written for Choral Arts to perform but the leadership of St. Joseph’s Church in Seattle refused to allow its words to be presented in their sanctuary. Hmmm.

Night I searched for a long time for an ideal text on the theme of “Night” and finally put together three poems, one each by Amy Lowell, Carl Sandburg, and Choral Arts’ director Robert Bode, which allowed me to write a piece that contains both quiet and highly dramatic sections. I have to admit that it borders on a piano concerto with choral accompaniment.

The World Feels Dusty  (A setting of Emily Dickinson’s poem) I wrote this during the final months of life of my beloved friend, Neil Lieurance, when I was spending time with him every day. The poet speaks of how “dusty” the world feels when we are dying, and how the “least fan stirred by a friend’s hand cools like the rain.” As I helped Neil with daily tasks her words “mine be the ministry when thy thirst comes” echoed in mind. The song features a mezzo soprano solo throughout.

Come and Join the Dance (Text by Rick Asher) Sally Mehler, director of the Veritas High School Choir in Newburg, Oregon, told me that she needed a very rhythmic Christmas piece that would work for her choir and this was my response. The notes are pretty easy, but the mixed meters have made it a good challenge for Sally’s fine choir. I wanted it to have a touch of medieval flavor so I used some archaic language and wrote the music in dorian mode. I also included some easy percussion parts.

 

SSA and SSAA

Song for a Friend (text by Rick Asher) This is an arrangement for three-part women’s choir of the solo song that I wrote for Neil Lieurance. It was given its first performance by Seattle Children’s Choir “Arioso”, directed by Kris Mason, at the American Choral Directors Northwest Convention in 2014.Song for a Friend

The Voice of the Lord This is a setting of Psalm 29 for SSAA. The Psalm speaks of hearing the Voice of the Lord through the thunder. The moods within the Psalm range from the terror of hearing the storm to the reassurance that the Lord will give his people peace.

Three Songs on Poems by Robert Bode (may be performed individually or as a set) All are for four-part women’s chorus

  1. Autumn
  2. Take My Hand (Also arranged for SSAATB)
  3. Hymn

Ten Thousand Joys (text by Holly Hughes) with piano

SA

Lullaby for a Little One (text by Rick Asher) with piano

This is the lullaby that I wrote for our granddaughter, Ada, before she was born, then later arranged for two-part treble choir. It was performed by the Seattle Children’s Chorus, superbly directed my Kris Mason. Here’s a recording of that performance:

Just in the St. Nick of Time (text by Rick Asher) This is a tongue-twister that should be sung very quickly! Here’s the PDF. Let me know if you use it in some fun way! Just in the St Nick of Time SA

SSAAB

Take My Hand (text by Robert Bode) This setting of Robert’s poem is for Soprano 1, Soprano 2, Alto 1, Alto 2, and Baritone. It was written especially for Shorecrest HS Viva Voce Chorale, Leann Banton Rozema,director, who will present it on their March 20 concert. Click here to see Robert’s fine poem: Take My Hand

In a Blanket of Sweet Memory Shorecrest HS Viva Voce Chorale, Leann Banton Rozema, director performed this song as the finale of their spring concert on May 29, 2013, combined with the choir from Kellogg Middle School.
The lyrics are the result of a wonderful collaboration between Shorecrest HS choir students and me. They chose the theme as a group and then individually wrote words, phrases and bits of poetry related to that theme. I wove their words and some of mine together into these lyrics: In a Blanket of Sweet Memory lyrics

Here is Shorecrest’s performance of the song:

SATBBCome and Join the Dance (Text by Rick Asher) I wrote this highly rhythmic piece in shifting meters for choir with optional string bass and percussion for the Veritas HS Choir in Newberg, Oregon, and their director, Sally Mehler after Sally told me that she couldn’t find something rhythmic that didn’t use piano for her choir to sing on their Christmas concert. It’s in dorian mode and the lyric’s are in a medieval carol style, or at least as close as I could get to that style in the 21st century! You can see the Veritas Choir sing this song with wonderful rhythm and enthusiasm on Youtube at this link: http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQmp6LOszbw

SAB

Four Short Worship Songs (texts by Rick Asher) with piano or organ

  1. Choral Call to Worship: Holy Union with God
  2. Choral Response to Prayer: God, Who Needs No Invocation
  3. Choral Call to Communion: We Partake of Communion
  4. Choral Benediction: On a Current of Encircling Love

TBB, TTBB, and C(Cambiata)TB

Driftin’ (Text by Rick Asher) A slight country twang inhabits this tune about a couple that’s not driftin’ apart, and not driftin’ together, I guess you’d say that they’re just driftin’. It’s an arrangement TBB of a solo song that I wrote a couple years ago.

Shana’s Gonna Dance Again (Text by Rick Asher) This is a TBB arrangement of the tune that I wrote for my sister-in-law before she had hip surgery (Nana’s Gonna Dance Again – you’ll find it on the Solo Songs page. This new arrangement has words about Shanna not letting a broken heart keep her down (we assume that her hip doesn’t need replacement!)

A Simple Love Song (Text by Rick Asher) This is an arrangement for four-part men’s choir of the solo song that I wrote for my wife, Jocelyn. The piano part is “juicy” and I’d love to accompany any choir that sings this song!

NEW: What Would the World Be, Once Bereft? The title comes from the last stanza of a Gerald Manley Hopkins poem. I used that stanza as the refrain for this song, then used words and phrases contributed by the boys from the Einstein Middle School Boys Choir to create the lyrics for the verses. I wrote this song for the Einstein Boys and their director, Janet Allison, based on their theme of caring for the earth.