Anthem Book Recommendations
  • I'm thinking of getting a book of anthems for the choir, and I was wondering if anyone would be willing and able to give me recommendations/comments about these three books? The budget that I have is not unlimited, so I'm really interested in getting one of these three, depending on the recommendation of this marvelous forum!

    --The Oxford Easy Anthem Book
    --The New Oxford Easy Anthem Book
    --The New Church Anthem Book

    How have they worked with your choirs? Is there a difference in difficulty level? Compositional quality?

  • Aaron
    Posts: 108
    My church choir uses the New Oxford Easy Anthem Book. It has been a great book with many classics as well as contemporary choral literature. We have had it only two years now, and so have not used everything yet. I personally own the New Church Anthem Book but most of the literature is beyond the skills of my choir at the current time.
  • Check out the Catholic Choirbook Collection!
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,481
    We have the New OEA Book. It is good but not as good as this:

    The website is here:

    If you are still interested in the New OEA Book, I can tell you that we use about half of it. Some of the music is not particularly useful because it is new and rather unpleasant. Some of the music is great: Mozart: Ave Verum, Arcadelt: Ave Maria, Pitoni: Cantate Domino, Stainer: God So Loved the World, Tallis: If Ye Love Me, Gibbons: Drop, Drop Slow Tears.

    I wish I would have known about The Catholic Choirbook because it would have fulfilled the needs my choir had for solid Catholic anthems/motets. OEA certainly helps, but that is about all. The music is good for my choir which is a mixed group of choristers. We have about 20 - 25 on a regular Sunday and I'd say a fifth read music well and the others need a lot of teachign and help.

    I would supplement The Catholic Choirbook with the Parish Book of Chant :

    and if you need propers: The Simple English Propers.

  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,241
    I'm actually thinking of doing something similar to PDFrancine. Not to hijack the thread, but I am concerned that the Catholic Choirbook has more Latin than my choir will tolerate. Does the OEA or New OEA lean more heavily on solid English repertoire than Latin?
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,943
    The New OEA is almost entirely English. The New CAB is more evenly split between English and Latin.

    Over half of the works in The New CAB are available in CPDL editions.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,241
    Thanks, Charles. That helps me a lot!
  • Thanks for the replies, everybody.

    Scott, is the book you reference the same as the New Oxford Easy Anthem Book or does the absence of the word "Easy" mean that it's a different collection?
  • I would avoid the (old) Oxford Easy Anthem Book. It's clogged with a number of forgettable pieces by now-forgotten composers as well as motets adapted to English words. The editing of the classics in the book (Mozart, Bach, Dowland, etc.) are lacking by modern standards, and at any rate these can be found in the New Oxford Easy Anthem Book or in some cases on CPDL.
  • We have The New Church Anthem Book at my parish (Anglican), and it has gotten a lot of use. Out of the 100 anthems, there are 35 in our repertoire, with at least 10 more I'd like to work in over the next several years. A terrific book.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • The Oxford Choral books are wonderful, have used them for years and years and cannot recommend them highly enough.

    The "Easy" Anthem book is not easy, and I have always purchased the New Church Anthem Book instead of the "easy" book when I had to make a choice, but, if you can afford it, get both!

    [adding after AW's post below - I have a feeling "easy" in the title means "shorter"]

    These books give you access to many newer copyright works in excellent editions that your choir will love to sing!
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    The "Easy" Anthem book is not easy,

    That was my first thought the first time I perused it.
    Thanked by 1Mark Husey
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I think Noel's series would be a lifetime's worth of repertoire for even over-achieving volunteer choirs. YMMV
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood CHGiffen
  • Placing old traditional hymns in English in the back of the Anthology plus some new ones in English including texts by Vincent Uher was to give people in the loft and the pews something that they could not complain about when you are starting to use TCCB Anthology.

    The English anthems in it are because they are lovely for use at the OF, the Latin Motets as well.

    And thanks to all for the kind words. I encourage any and all to buy a copy or copies for their choirs to help support the work if possible.

    More than half of the free downloads (and this was a major surprise) go to Catholics in Africa and Asia where I am sure that it would be impossible to buy music from America - though shipping charges going overseas are often surprisingly low.
    Thanked by 2canadash CHGiffen
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Placing old traditional hymns in English in the back...

    This reminds me:

    If you have a BEGINNER choir (or you are a BEGINNER conductor) -
    SATB hymns from a good hymnal make great choir pieces.

    Sing them unaccompanied (when appropriate).

    Vary texture/voicing (Unison, men only, women only, etc) and dynamics/interpretation from verse to verse the way you might change registration on an organ. Pretty soon you have yourself a full arrangement.

    We do the following ALL THE TIME with four-verse hymns:
    1 - Unison
    2 - Women only, in 2 parts
    3 - Men only, in 3 parts (melody, Tenor, Bass)
    4 - SATB

    Or, in five verses:
    1 - SATB (usually lightly or mezzo-mezzo)
    2 - women
    3 - men
    4 - Unison

    For "standard" hymns - many fine hymnals exist, and you probably own a few.
    The Episcopal 1940 and 1982 both have some nice things you don't (often) find elsewhere.

    The English Hymnal 1906 (and only the 1906) has wonderful SATB harmonizations of a bunch of chant hymn tunes (later editions replaced these with 3-part harms. that are more idomatic to accompanying chant on the organ, but the SATB ones from the original are fantastic for choir).
    Thanked by 2irishtenor CHGiffen
  • Look at the following anthologies:

    OXFORD - New Church Anthem Book (lots of solid SATB parish choir rep)
    OXFORD - Anthems for Choirs 1 & 4 for SATB choir
    OXFORD - Anthems for Choirs 2 (indispensable SS or SA duets)
    OXFORD - European Sacred Music (buy a reference copy and get free editions online)
    OXFORD - Weddings for Choirs (soooo useful)
    OXFORD - 100 Carols for Choirs; buy one of each Carols for Choirs for reference
    NOVELLO - High Praise 1 & 2 are excellent if you have a couple of good SS/SA soloists
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,536
    I've used I think 40 out of the 100 pieces in The New Church Anthem Book. It's around $20 and since only Harris' "Holy is the true light" (of those 40) is copyright, I haven't realized any economies of scale on the printing. Rather, it's saved me a lot of photocopying and refiling time. Will I do additional pieces? I look forward to Gardiner's Evening Hymnsometime when the divisi are well-covered, but who could prefer Goss' God so loved the world to Stainer's, or Schütz's?

    We also have European Sacred Music. This has a high proportion of 8-part music and is therefore a hard sell for a church choir, but if I had a Latin-adverse parish I would certainly consider it for the quality of the (copyright) singing translations, especially the Bruckner.

    It's a question whether there is some core repertory that could be collected in a single volume that every choir would sing all the way through, but I know of not a single anthology, no matter how slim, where I could agree with everything that was included let alone what got left out.

    In case one of the big publishers is reading, though, here's my current wishlist:
    Stravinsky: Pater noster, Credo, Agnus from Mass
    Paart: The beatitudes
    Ligeti: Epiphany Carol (2-part MW a capp.)
    Britten: Jubilate
    Poulenc: O magnum mysterium
    Tavener: The Lamb, Today the Virgin, Love bade me welcome
    Bloch: the a cappella Yihyu lerozon from the Sacred Service (this is printed as a single octavo, I've found out)
  • This isn't an anthem book recommendation, but a recommendation of an early XXth century polyphonic mass for double choir for any of you (tee-hee) who might have the resources and the liturgy to go with it. Namely, Frank Martin's 1922 mass for double choir, one of the most gorgeous this writer has ever heard. It is without question on a par with Vaughan Williams' G-minor mass. It is beyond question one of the most important settings of the mass of the early XXth century

    We heard it at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Houston, this evening, the occasion being a votive mass of the Sacred Heart. Singing was the concert choral of UofH's Moores' School of Music under the direction of Betsy Weber of high esteem. Crista Miller, the co-cathedral organist and musical director played the Tournemire Sacred Heart Suite with sensitivity and a fitting understatement - and exquisitely registered. The chant propers were sungen by men and women in alternation, and being sungen in the duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-e-qual-beat-e-ve-ry-note-the-same school of rhythm, left much to be desired. The blend was good, The diction was good. But the chant was wooden, without nuance or semiological energy and life. Myopic, this school of interpretation is! They haven't heard yet that at Solesmes they are no longer doing the so-called 'Solesmes Method', nor did they ever, really. (Have any of these devotees of a sometimes-pretty-but-scholarlily-discredited interpretation ever read Dom Cardine, Fr Columba Kelly, or listened carefully to Alberto Turco?)

    The Mass itself, though, by Frank Martin was splendid, and the Moores' School choir were quite exquisite and expert in execution of the early XXth century tonal vocabulary. It was a Novus Ordo Mass celebrated ad orientem and entirely in its native Latin, excepting, of course, the readings (which WERE NOT SUNG!!@!!!!!!!!!!!). Incense was used and much smoke was thrown about.

    Except for the readings and homily EVERYTHING ELSE was sung, and the congregation responded well on all their parts of the mass.

    There were about five hundred in the congregation, representing UH professors, students, music-loving Catholics, a few of my Anglican Ordinariate friends, a smattering of religious, priests, etc.

    Frank Martin, who wrote this excellent mass in 1922, was a devout Calvinist. He wrote it as a profound personal devotion and kept it as a private spiritual matter to himself untill some friends who stumbled across it persuaded him to publish it some years later.

    Some may want to consider putting it in their repertoire if they have the talent and resourses. (Um, did I say that it is a capella?)

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Here's a recording by RIAS Kammerchor of Berlin, with follow-along score.


  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,943
    Wow! Nearly thirty minutes of pure heaven. Thanks for posting the recording. This has left me quite humbled on this day before Ash Wednesday.