Music is an important part of our worship at Saint Michael’s-on-the-Heights.
James Moore, organist and choir director, leads the Adult Choir. They sing at the 10 AM Holy Eucharist services from early September until Trinity Sunday. During the summer the choir rehearses on Sunday mornings and sings in the congregation.
They also sing for many special occasions. The midnight mass on Christmas Eve features a half-hour choral prelude concert. All of the Holy week services are sung, with different music for each service. The choir also sings for services on Ash Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve. In 2012, an anthem was composed by Dorothy VanAndel Frisch named “To St. Michael in Time of Peace,” for the 75th anniversary celebration for our church, textually based on a poem written by Gilbert K. Chesterton about Saint Michael. The church sometimes augments the choir with professional singers from the area. We sometimes use music students from the area and professional instrumentalists for Preludes, Postludes, and leading hymns.
The main source for hymns and service music at Saint Michael’s is The Hymnal, 1982 and we have drawn from other sources for congregational hymns and songs. The Choir sings a variety of types of anthems, including early American hymnody, African American spirituals, Renaissance motets and masses, early 20th century music and recent original compositions.
The church has a Children’s Choir, led by Sarah-Kate Johnson. It is made up of two groups of children who sing for special occasions. Some are in a younger group of children starting at the age of preschool. They learn simpler repetitive or call-and-response songs to perform during some Sunday masses. There are also several older children who learn a hymn or song of their own. The most recent addition to the Children’s Choir is a small collection of varied percussion instruments.
The earlier mass on Christmas features favorite hymns lead by the Children’s choir as well as a nativity play/pageant by the youth of the church. The church also sponsors Christmas Caroling throughout the neighborhood in December.
St. Michael’s has a 1974 organ with 27 ranks of pipes and 18 stops over two manuals and pedal. The Casavant Frères organ builders of Quebec originally installed this organ in 1974 at the former St. John’s Episcopal Church of Worcester. Following the closure of St. John’s, the Southfield Organ Builders of Springfield, MA, moved the organ to St. Michael’s church in 2009 to replace an E. M. Skinner house organ. The organ is capable of leading the congregation in singing, accompanying choral and ensemble music, and performing many styles of organ music. The organ is available for organ practice by organ students of the community and by others wishing to learn organ performance.
The sanctuary itself is an excellent performance space. The organ console and altar are both moveable to create a larger staging space. A local music program has used the space for its Messiah performance in December. Other events have included ecumenical services, Evensong, and the dedicatory organ concert following the installation of the organ.