More about Oxford’s For Choirs Series

June 28, 2019

Oxford University Press first released Carols for Choirs in 1961.  The landmark publication was an immediate success and has since been followed by four sequels plus the larger collection 100 Carols for Choirs.  Most of the collections are for SATB choirs, but Carols for Choirs 3 is exclusively for treble choirs. There are also two volumes of World Carols for Choirs.

In addition to the carol books, Oxford also has many other titles in the For Choirs series.  These include four volumes of Anthems for Choirs (two of which are specifically for treble choirs) that include material suitable for different times of the year. 

Oxford also publishes a series of books dedicated to specific liturgical seasons:

Advent for Choirs contains a wide selection of material, including the Advent Prose and O Antiphons, appropriate to the unique spiritual themes of this season and help to distinguish it from the looming arrival of Christmas.

Ash Wednesday to Easter for Choirs gathers together music specific to the lengthy season of Lent.  It also includes material specific to each of the holy days in Passiontide and 16 titles for the Easter season.

Epiphany to All Saints for Choirs is a useful resource for Ordinary Time, Pentecost, Ascension, and the assorted themes that fall between Christmas and Lent (see below).

Weddings for Choirs is exactly what you expect: a collection of music appropriate for use in marriages.  The collection gives suggestions for what music is appropriate for different moments in the ceremony.  As choral weddings become more rare, books like this will be useful to create ceremonies that avoid the same-old standards.

These collections are especially useful because they group music by theme and provide scriptural references, liturgical plans for special services, and substantial commentary on the themes unique to the appropriate liturgical season.  These resources help give a more thorough and better understanding of the particular requirements for choosing music appropriate to the season.  It also means choir members no longer need to carry half-a-dozen books in any given service because each collection only contains a single piece appropriate for the time of year!

Epiphany to All Saints for Choirs, to use it as an example, contains six anthems specifically intended for Ascension Sunday and describes the scriptural sources on which this celebration is based (Acts 1:1-9) and describes its history and significance in the liturgical calendar.   The same collection also includes eleven anthems for Pentecost, six for Trinity Sunday, and many others.

These four collections from Oxford are a fantastic resource and are certainly worth a look from all directors of SATB church choirs. The latest volume in Oxford’s growing “For Choirs” series features sacred music by Russian composers:

Although most collections in Oxford’s “For Choirs” series contain sacred music, four volumes of folk-songs will appeal to concert and community choirs:

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