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Suggestions for church closing

Last week, our congregation (Disciples of Christ) voted to move out of our current facility and prepare for demolition. What suggestions might you have for celebration services for the space (to be demolished)? Bruckner's "Locus Iste" comes to mind, but is inaccessible for our small forces. All suggestions welcome: ancient or modern, classical or comtemporary. Solo pieces also welcome.
Thanks very much!
John Womeldorff
FCC Girard, Kansas
Replies (18): Threaded | Chronological
on December 29, 2013 4:23am
The hymn " O God Our Help in Ages Past" immediately comes to mind. You could use it as a hymn or as a choral arrangement. All the best!
Warren R. Johnson
on December 29, 2013 4:34am
Well, anything from anyone's requiem would be fun, or the epic "Amen" from the end of Messiah.  Although, there is the issue of the size of the group to worry about...  
How about this one.  
Good for a small group, and the text is appropriate.  
"In the last days, 
when the land is rolled up,
and the seas are poured out, 
and everything is put away, 
come and sit with me, 
my old friend, 
and we'll watch as the stars are put out, 
one by one."
The score is available for free through choralwiki, or I can email it to you as a pdf if you'd like.  
I'm so sorry about the closing of your church home, but I hope you'll have the opportunity to program a wonderful last service to do justice to the memories there.  
M. Furtak
Applauded by an audience of 2
on December 31, 2014 9:39am
Am interested in knowing the author of this text beginning "In the last days...".  Is there more text either before or after what you've provided?  Thanks...
on January 2, 2014 12:56pm
That's the sum total of the text, Thomas.  I'm the author and the composer.  I often find it easier to write my own text, instead of trying to find someone else's that fits what I want to do and getting permission to use it.  I'm glad you like it!  
-M.  Furtak
on January 4, 2014 5:35am
Its's a beautiful text...and a wonderful sentiment!
on December 29, 2013 5:19am
I've only been to a couple of decommissioning services, and both were different.
In one all the readings and hymns were those that were used at the church's dedication service many years before.
In the second congregants were previously surveyed for their list of favorite hymns sung at the church over the years and a handful were selected to be sung.
"O God, Our help in Ages Past" would seem appropriate to me.
You might have a solo trumpeter play "The Last Post."
-Cecil Rigby
Clemson, SC
on December 29, 2013 5:46am
Perhaps an arrangement of "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" would be OK. Granted, it's much more general than Locus Iste.
on December 29, 2013 7:11am
I would recommend O How Amiable by Ralph Vaughan Williams.  In The New Church Anthem Book published by Oxford, this piece is designated specifically for the dedication of a church.  
Dennis Malfatti
University of Evansville
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 29, 2013 8:41am
If you can muster a brass (or other, similar) quartet, I have a yet-to-be-premiered setting of the Locus iste in English for 2-part mixed; brass 4tet and organ that might fit the bill. Please contact me directly for a score sampler and MIDI snapshot.
Hope this helps,
Robert A.M. Ross
robertamross(a) <Robert Ross 11>
on December 29, 2013 1:24pm
--“For all the Saints” by Vaughn Williams – a great piece for giving a congregation a feeling of community no matter the circumstances.
--“Urbs beata Jersualem” by Victoria – a very beautiful setting that alternates chant with 4-part polyphony; again, the emphasis being that the Church is beyond the building.  Check it out at… Most of us know the text as “Blessed city, heav’nly Salem” by John Mason Neale.  The Episcopal “Hymnal 1940” has a setting of the text with it’s traditional Sarum Plainsong (in unison) along with the hymn tune Oriel by Casper Ett (it’s also often set to Regent Square).
--“Locus Iste” by Bruckner has more to it than meets the eye:  The natural acoustics of a church adds power to the piece (especially if you observe the rests) and can inspire a very tiny beginning choir (11 souls).  You might give it a second look…
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 29, 2013 2:04pm
I'm a bit concerned by what you say about Locus Iste needing more than your usual forces. I have been in choirs that used it as an emergency item when only four people showed up, not necessarily all singing their usual voice parts. Forgive me if some of my suggestions are over-ambitious for the musicians you have.

Two ideas need a baritone. Stanley Vann set the poem "The gate of the year". It speaks of stepping boldly into the unknown and is wonderful music, available through his son's website.

My wife has set a text "Great is your faithfulness" also for baritone and small chorus, with organ. This is the text from Lamentations, at the time of the exile, and speaks of hope after demolition. If you have only limited forces I'm sure she could reduce the scoring a bit if you sent us a private message.

The other text that comes to mind is Nunc Dimittis, which has been set countless times. This is even more hopeful, because the valediction is a happy one: "...depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." If you are down to just two singers, you are welcome to use my setting but you probably have a favourite setting already.

With best wishes for what sounds like a difficult time,
Applauded by an audience of 3
on December 30, 2014 9:31am
As a follow up to my suggestion about R. V. Williams O How Amiable, I have noticed several responders suggest the hymn O God Our Help in Ages Past.  That hymn actually occurs in the anthem O How Amiable.
on December 30, 2014 2:38pm
Having done this once. I suggest things that the choir has done before. Take suggestions and be pastoral. This is one case where the musician and minister really need to hear the congregation and what it might need at this sad time.
I have also attended one decommissioning and the congregation and the choir had decided to celebrate with happy and uplifting music. It was completely the opposite of what I was prepared for but the priest set it up perfectly for those of us visiting. It was a celebration – yes lots of tears – but they closed that place with what looked like Easter morning. How wonderful it was.
Listen to your people.
Applauded by an audience of 5
on January 1, 2014 6:28am
 I really like Pepper Choplin's "We Say Amen".
 It's mostly unison with harmony on the bridge so very accessible for small church choirs but the words are perfect for the end of one era and the beginning of another.
on January 1, 2014 8:37am
Wow! Thank you all for such wonderful suggestions! I apologize for not replying sooner- the FLU has visited our home...
I'll be talking it over with Pastor today- I'll let you know what we come up with.
Thanks again,
on January 3, 2014 4:59am
While I'm sure all these suggestions are lovely (some of which I know), I have to wonder something:
Is this "decommissioning" of the church meaning that the congregation will disband or that the church building itself is what is "disbanded?"  The reason I ask is, the disbanding of a community would be a cause for sorrow, at least for nostalgia, and would call for perhaps a more deeply contemplative approach to the choice of music; whereas if it's the building's demolition, but not the community's, that's at issue, that might be the source of joy - an opportunity for (or a response to) growth.  That answer would inform your choices, I would think.
"Locus iste," which we've done with our relatively small choir (12-16) is a splendid piece, but would seem better for dedication than demolition ("This is the place God has made for the sacred mysteries, it is beyond reproach" - it would seem as though it were more dedicatory than dismissive).  Just some thoughts....
on January 3, 2014 7:26am
Thanks Mr. Duquette. Yes, this is moving out of a church building.  The plan is to share worship space with the Presbyterians across the street, and rebuild on the same land our folks have occupied for 87 years.  So, yes, we are trying to lift up the positve side of this process, while recognizing the sense of loss some will feel. 
Thanks again!
on January 4, 2014 6:47am
John: In 2010, I used an anthem called Clouds of Witnesses Surround Us, by Robert A. Hobby, for the closing of a building and congregation. 
The text connects people to the past, to the church universal, and emphasizes a sense of mission.  
If you'd like to see the complete bulletin from that service, send me an email or private message.  
Frank Martignetti 
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