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Religious themes: Angels

Good Afternoon Choralist Members-

A big thanks to the many thoughtful answers I received to my question about
choral music relating to angels. What a wealth of information you so
willingly provided! A special thanks to:
Ben Allaway
Warren Avery
Deborah Bradley
Vicky Boechler
Timothy Carney
Karen DeBack
Gabriel Dumitrescu
Linda Gingrich
Mark Gresham
David Griggs-Janower
John Grigsby
Carolyn Gwyer
Richard Householder
John Howell
Diane Loomer
Bruce MacIntyre
Stuart McIntosh
Gene Morlan
Linda Noah
Tim Olsen
Noel Piercy
Thomas Porter
Patricia Romza
Rebecca Rottsolk
Martha Springstead
Kevin Suiter
F. William Thomas
Mark Tuning
Nelson (nelsonkwei)
Thomas R. Wine

Following is a summary of what was received. As you can imagine, Rutter's
"The Angels' Carol" was most often recommended, but there are manyother
interesting suggestions. This will be a lot of fun. Thanks again for your

Best wishes,
Mike Ellingsen
Vocal Music and Drama
Blue Earth Area High School

The Angel Gabriel from Heaven came

(Angel piece) - Linda Spevacek and Warren Avery
(Shawnee # E0400)
My wife is Linda Spevacek. We wrote a nice Angel piece last year
that may be what you are looking for. Linda told me that this is a
sophisticated 2 part possibly could be done mixed.
I am in the process of putting together an e-mail list of
individuals that are involved in Choral Music. Are you interested in being
on her mailing list for new releases or clinic information. If you are
interested please let me know if there is a particular voicing (2 Part, 3
Part, SATB, etc) that is of interest and please include your mailing
If you are interested in Linda's current catalog, we have an
Acrobat copy that we can send via an attachment. (I also include the
internet address to download the free copy of the Acrobat Reader.)
PS If you know of anyone else that may be interested in being on
our mailing list, please feel free to forward this to their attention.

The Angelic Greeting - J. Brahms
(E. C. Schirmer)

Angels of Christmas - John Purifoy/narration by Rev. William Privette
(Lorenz #65/1856L)
A contemporary cantata with a single piano accompaniment and is
about 35 minutes long.

Angels We Have Heard On High - Gabriel Dumitrescu
(Musica Romanica #XECM-0017)
SATB with divisi, a capella
It has been successfully performed in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Angels' Carol - John Rutter
(Hinshaw #HMC-1002)
SATB with piano or harp
Not terribly difficult, but it does have a couple of Rutter's
typical tricky licks. . . .

The Angels and The Shepherds - Stephen Paulus
Really good, and is accompanied by a small number of handbells and
two flutes. While European American Musis doesn't list it in its current
catalog, the work can be obtained.

Angels are Everywhere - Daniel Pinkham
This is a set which had two delightful movements; one about the
wives of the three kings who are left behind when their husbands travel to
Bethlehem. The other reflects on the monks who ponder that old question,
"How many angels can dance on the head of a pin"?

Angels From the Realms of Glory - Derric Johnson

Angels from the realms of glory - F. William Thomas
I am not soliciting - but I will respond to your request by
mentioning that I have an "Angel" setting which I wrote as one movement of
a Christmas Cantata for my church choirs. It was written with children's
choir in mind so it is not difficult. It is a "layered" piece with an
opening theme for children [or treble] voices unison; a second theme for 3
part women and a third for men . These themes then are "stacked" together
for the finale. I have enjoyed great response from my congregation and
choirs as to its effect. It is not published but I would be happy to share
it with anyone who would like to use it providing I receive a program with

Angels Watching Over Me - Amy Grant
If you're willing to consider pop style, this is a very powerful
up-tempo song in the mid-early 80s.

Angels We Have Heard On High - Linda Gingrich
(Santa Barbara Music Publishers) 805-962-5800
for double choir-SATB/SSAA echo choir.
This sounds a bit imposing, but it should be very doable by a high
school choir. It's of moderate difficulty. The first time I performed it
with my church choir the congregation burst into applause, and I have
performed it many times with my community choir. It's an audience

Angels we have heard on high - Stephen Paulus
Very attractive arrangement for SATB chorus with organ.

Angelus Ad Pastores Ait (Angels, then to the shepherds saying) - Hans Leo
A lovely polyphonic motet.

Angelus: In Excelsis - Ben Allaway
LMNOP Publications (515-288-8883) after Christmas 1998
Cantata on the Angels of the Christmas story, in three movements
for SATB Choir, soli, organ, 8-part brass, timp, cym
I. Angelus ad Zechariah 5'30"
II. Angelus ad virginem, et in somnis 7'50"
III. Angelus ad pastores: In Excelsis 5'00"
I'm just completing this 18 minute cantata in three movements on
the Angels of the Christmas story, commissioned by Philip Brunelle's and
two other Plymouth Churches (Des Moines and Lincoln, NE). Unfortunately
the premiere is their's, so you couldn't do it this Christmas, but would be
good to have it on the list for compilation.

Angel Among Us - Becky Hobbs and Don Goodman/Pete Schmutte
(Warner Bros #CH9552)
SATB with piano, pop country tune.

Ave, Ave, the Angels Sang - Robert Lau
(E.C. Schirmer)

Beati quorum via - C.V.Stanford
(Boosey & Hawkes)

Before the Marvel of this Night - Carl Schalk
Don't overlook this, which sets a beautiful text about angels.

Blow Ye the Trumpet - Kirke Mechem

Brother Henrich's Christmas - John Rutter

Canticle of the Angels - Robert Harris
(Mark Foster)

Christmas Oratorio - Bach
This has the recitatives before and the aria No. 15 (Tenor) "Frohe
Hirten, eilt, ach eilt, eh ihr euch zu lang verweilet" (angel's message to
shepherds w/flute obbligato & b.c.); then chorus in No. 21 "Ehre sei Gott"
represents the heavenly host praising God. . . .

The Company of Heaven - Britten
It is about 35 minutes long, a pastiche of poetry/scripture and
some unbelievably great musical settings by Britten, for chorus, tenor and
soprano solo, strings, organ and timpani.

The Creation - Haydn
Most of the solos are sung by the angels Raphael (bass), Uriel
(tenor), and Gabriel (soprano, sic!). Gabriel's first aria -- with chorus
-- would be most impressive with its high c's for the soprano soloist and
her exciting alternation with the chorus. Of course, "The heavens are
telling" uses all 3 angel soloists.

Dixit Maria ad Angelum - And Mary Said to the Angel - Hassler

Down to the roots of the world (#2 of "A Christmas pair") - Dan Locklair
(Wayne Leupold)
Might be a stretch for many church choirs, but do look at it. We
did it on Christmas Eve a couple of years ago. The text is not exclusively
about angels, but the middle section does depict angels in a most ecstatic
passage. The opening and closing sections are ethereal. The text is
extraordinary! It speaks of the angels "unsatellite, as all things
aeriform," and mentions a "bright, heraldic butterfly." My choir's
exposure to the text generated lots of interesting discussion. It was a
wonderful experience. The choir has to whistle in 2 parts.

For He shall give his angels (from Elijah) - Mendelssohn

Gabriel's Message - Carl Schalk

Give us the wings of faith - Ernest Bullock

Gloria in excelsis Deo (movement III of CHRISTMAS CANTATA) - Daniel Pinkham
(Robert King Music)
SATB with brass choir and/or organ
Quite an exciting rendition of the angels' annuntiatory message on
Christmas eve. It starts pp -- with the angels in the distance -- and
gets louder and louder with each repeated "Gloria" refrain. Exciting
rhythms and occasional beautifully tart harmonies.

Glory to God in the Highest - Pergolesi
(many publishers)

Glory to God in the Highest - Thompson
(E.C. Schirmer #2470)

He Shall Give His Angels Charge Over Thee - Donald Busarow

How Like an Angel Came I Down - Rupert Lang
(Boosey & Hawkes)
SATB choir, soloist (either mezzo or baritone) and piano
Text is both beautiful and interesting - vocal lines very
satisfying to sing. This needs a good accompanist and a fine, dramatic
We loved it. The text is fabulous and very unusual - about God
'condescending' to come to earth and then seeing the riches and beauty of
earth as a celebration of his birth/presence. It also utilizes a treble
trio of angelic voices (I used some very talented teens and one pure adult
singer) and has a chant like solo for baritone which is great for someone
with the imagination to paint a text. It uses both organ and piano and,
though not technically difficult, is very rewarding and fun to dig into.

Jesus, Born in Bethle'm - Mark Gresham
(Lux Nova Press)
SATB unaccompanied, based on a Sacred Harp hymn and tune
Short, but briefly mentions angels in the second verse "Angels
gathered 'round him/Gathered all around him" which is a text change from
the original version which was premiered by San Francisco Symphony Chorus
(which simply repeated the first verse text in a different setting). Note
that this is very *modal* (things like bVII-I cadences) and may require the
choir do a brief exercise to become accustomed to that modality.
I can sell you all of them directly. If you're ordering through
someone like Schmitt Music, you can get them too; my piece if you direct
them to me (Schmitt in Minneapolis has bought from me before, but may have
misplaced the contact info).

Lullaby of the Little Angels" by W. H. Anderson
Gordon V. Thompson Music (E.I. 1003) available in the US through
Warner Bros.
this Canadian piece is utterly charming - If it is still in print
(it was copyright in 1968.) There is a recording of it by the Festival
Singers of Canada, the predecessor of the Elmer Iseler Singers, but I don't
have the label or number of the record.

Masque of Angels - Argento
(Boosey & Hawkes)

Messiah, Part I - Handel
The angels' arrival.

Morning Trumpet - arr. Alice Parker
(Hal Leonard)

On This Holy Night - Tim Olsen
(Vischer Ferry Music Publishing Co - my own company)
SATB a capella
A brand-new anthem, a paraphrase of the Luke Xmas story. My
original text is:
1. On this holy night as the world lay sleeping, shepherds in the
hills silent watch were keeping, when an angel of the Lord came to them,
bringing tidings of great joy for all people:
2. "Unto you is born this day in David's city Jesus Christ the
infant Savior to the nations. This shall be a sign: ye shall find the babe
wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger."
3. Suddenly there was with the angel heavenly hosts praising God
and saying, "Gloria! And on earth, peace, good will for all people."
It's short (1:30), tonal, pretty easy, and has a very gentle sound
appropriate for Xmas Eve. My church choir (St. Stephen's Episcopal,
Schenectady, NY) has been working on it for a few weeks and really enjoys
it. The cost is $1.25/copy whether you want hard copies from me or
permission to photocopy an agreed-upon number yourself. olsent(a)

Up Through Endless Ranks of Angels - Gerike
(Concordia )

Valediction - David Conte
(EC Schirmer)

Zwei der Seraphim - Jacobus Gallus
(also available in Latin version 'Duo Seraphim')

I had the most amazing array of angels impatiently waiting for me at my
computer when I arrived this morning. "Where were you? You're late!" they
all glowered. Nothing like crabby angels.

Amazing response. Thank you all. I'll add to complilation as necessary.

*Off of the top of my head comes "Nova, Nova, Ave fit ex
Eva" by Williametta Spencer--a magnificent piece.
-Denise Baccadutre

*The Prayer from Hansel and Gretel! 14 angels.

*You might be interested in the attached program I did at the University
of Buffalo awhile back. - Harriet Simons
(Sorry-I don't know how to give you that link except to link you to
Harriet. Steve)
Harriet Simons

*Mary Goetze wrote a special "angel" song for us
(Ashland Symphonic Youth Chorus)...mainly SA,
some SSA....called "Angel Song", published by
Alliance #AMP 0439. I think you'll love it.

*Hi, Steve,
Sounds like a creative and interesting concert theme! Just a thought...if
you would like to add an easier but interesting 2 part filler piece for
women's choir, you might consider my 'Where Are The Angels?' with Shawnee
Press. A description, PDF and short audio may be found on my website On the music search link, put 'Angels' in the
keyword search box. Let me know if I can be of further help. Good luck on
your program ideas...and have a wonderful spring concert season!!

Linda Spevacek

*Argento, Gloria from the Masque of Angels
Carol of the Angels (JJ Niles arr?)
Stephenson If Angels Sung
Stetsenko - The Angels Claimed (I suspect it's another Gabriel one)

*Duo Seraphim (Handl/Gallus)
Angelus ad pastores ait (various composers)
Quem vidistis, pastores (Poulenc)
Obviously there are carols such as "Angels we have heard on high,"
"Gabriel's Message" and the like.

*You've got to look at "How Like an Angel Came I down" - Composer - Rupet
Lang, published for SATB choir by Boosey & Hawkes. Beautiful text - a
glorious sing - you'll need a very good mezzo or baritone soloist to sing
the angel's part, the SSA choir chould be the angels who have to sing a
separate section as part of the grand and glorious ending.
Diane Loomer

I wrote a piece called "Angels and Strangers" under an American
Composers Forum residency which isn't at all your typical "angel" piece,
with an original text by a fellow Atlantan. It's in the production line
for publication early this summer.
You would need a solo cello or a viola in addition to pipe organ
I can give you references for opinions of this work (Central
Presbyterian Church, Atlanta).
Let me know if you'd like to look at a pre-publication copy. There
may be a live recording by Central Presbyterian (in a worship service)
-- I am unsure of that, but can ask.

Mark Gresham, composer
Lux Nova Press
LNP Retail Webstore

*The first mvt of A CHRISTMAS CANTICLE by John Biggs would qualify nicely.
(SATB, pno,
sop. solo) See the CD and hear the music at:
/ Let us know if you'd like a perusal copy.

Paul Mark

*Dear Mr. Stomps
Here are my "angelic suggestions" from Picardie Court Publications:

ONE LITTLE LIGHT (SA children's voices - SATB humming chorus or
appropriate instruments, including piano) is a quiet, lovely selection,
the kind that touches a program with great beauty when adult and
children's voices combine. In lieu of SATB voices, appropriate
instruments, including the piano, may be used. In the Holy Bible,
Proverbs 16-9, says: "A man's heart deviseth his way; but the Lord
directeth his steps." The verse was on the composer's mind during the
creation of this piece, therefore, the bass descends in continuous steps
throughout the piece?as directed. The text is:

One little light at Christmas, created long ago,
lifted the world from darkness, and laid the devil low.
One little light just seemed to ignite and set all the world aglow!
Anyone on Earth at Christmas will know.
One little light at Christmas, transfigured you and me,
Lighting the way to lifetime that lasts eternally.
One little light is shinning so bright that even the blind can see
What a little light at Christmas can be.
Let the message of the Christmas Spirit set you free.
Be one little light!

Child soprano, C1--e-flat2; Child alto, C1-c2; Soprano (div) C1-c2; Alto,
a-A1; Tenor, written F1-f2; Bass, d-D1. (1:35) EASY

*MANGER SCENE, THE (SATB-brief solos for soprano and baritone voices) is a
setting of what went on in the manger on the night when Christ was born.
The music is in traditional harmony that supports flowing melodic lines.
This work has been toured all over the nation by at least two fine college
choirs. "The Manger Scene" should be placed between two fast pieces on a
choral program. The text is:

Lo, in a humble manger, clothed in the raiment of the poor, lies the Son
of Man!
Fearing no sudden danger, welcoming strangers to their door are the
parents of the Son of Man.
Angels are watching over the manger; kings are bestowing gifts with care.
Wise men are kneeling close to the cradle. Only the shepherds' hands are
Quietly, now the child awakens, viewing His subjects gathered there. How
silently, now, He smiles at the shepherds; though they are poor, they
still have a gift to share. What is their gift, so precious? What is the
glorious gift they bring to the Son of Man? They bring a wondrous gift of
love to the Son of Man. Surely the child is gracious; love is the perfect
gift to bring to the Son of Man, the Son of Man.

The vocal ranges are: soprano solo, c2-b-flat2; baritone solo,
Eb1-e-flat2; soprano, D1-e-flat2; alto, a-c-flat2; tenor, written F1-g2;
bass, F-b-flat. (2:50) EASY TO MEDIUM

WINTER ROSE, THE (SATB, optional piano or organ) The text is a
conversation between an angel and a person:

"In December, Christmas comes, and mankind remembers love again.
Warmth and friendship flowers and grows like a lovely winter rose."

"Winter rose, you say! Can that be? Is there such a thing in this world
of ours?"

"Such a rose was grown for me, long ago in Galilee. When the Rose was
born, there were thorns that would not outlast the lovely
flower. From the cross, the petals fell that would give us love's great

"Will the Rose appear, once again? Will it thrive on Earth where man's
heart is cold?"

"It will bloom as is foretold in the prophecy of old. In December,
Christmas comes, and mankind remembers love again. Warmth and friendship
flowers and grows, like the lovely Winter Rose."

The mood of the piece is soft and melodic, just right for Christmas Eve.
The ranges are: sop., D1-e2; alto, b-c2; tenor, (written) g#1-f2; bass,

If you would like a free CD of my Christmas music, please let me know.
"The Manger Scene" is on it.


Wallace De Pue


I have a piece called "Annunciation" that has just been published by Gemini
Press (Theodore Presser - sole selling agent). This is for solo soprano,
mixed chorus and piano. This work was commissioned by the Stockbridge (MA)
Festival Chorus and was conducted by Penna Rose
prose(a) - who would be happy to recommend it to you, I'm sure.

Steve Murray

*Angels Carol - Rutter
"Susan Kuyper"

*Here are a few suggestions from a fellow choral director and also composer

1. Angelus ad virginem - the beautiful medieval three part carol describing
the annunciation, best with three equal voices (soli or chamber group). I
would recommend OUP's edition (New Shorter Oxford Book of Carols; also in
their older Oxford Book of Carols)

2. Some plainchant - there are lots of lovely chants on angelic themes (and
also some motets by Palestrina, Victoria and Marenzio) on the CD 'Angels
from the Vatican' (Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, dir. Mary Berry) Herald
label, number HAVPCD 220

3. I attach a short setting of William Blake's 'The Angel' for soprano and
alto soli in case it fits what else you're doing.

With best wishes

Sheena Phillips


Like you, I also have a large SATB, a chamber SATB and a (9-10) Women's
Chorus, so I would be interested in your responses.

I periodically have the groups perform Kirke Mechem's Seven Joys of
Christmas (ECS Publishing.) It is a seven-movement collection originally
written for women's chorus and chamber orchestra, and then revoiced for
SATB with the same orchestra parts. The movements are separate winter
pieces, primarily carols plus a Japanese New Year song, all cleverly put
together. The final piece is a quodlibet combining a new tune with
snippets of the other movements, all good fun. I had each of the three
groups learn two movements -- my chamber choir getting the hardest two --
and it worked out that I could alternate the groups and put them together
for the finale. I recomment it.

Frederic Ford
Bridgewater-Raritan Reg. High School
P. O. Box 6569
Bridgewater, NJ 08807

*Since you mention a SSA choral, you may be interested in my _Words of the
Angel_, for SSA. A perusal score may be obtained from my publisher,
& Imrie (mapamundi(a), and there is a recording by Trio Mediaeval on
ECM label (thsi disc bears the same title). It's not easy, though!

I've written a number of other works concernng angels, but most are
instrumental, with the exception of _Arkhangelos_, ATTB, written for the
Hilliard Ensemble. If you need more information, please feel free to
me or visit my website:

Best wishes,

Ivan Moody

*Angelus: In Excelsis, by Ben Allaway. 3 mvts, all the angels of the
Christmas story.

Choir, 8-part brass (sim to Rutter Gloria), organ, soli, 20 mins.

Contact me about it at benlmnop(a)


Ben Allaway
Thresholds Music Press
Des Moines, IA

*There's a piece of Britten's called "The Company of Angels". Not sure of
anything to excerpt but it's worth a look.

Dominick Argento also wrote something on angels---sorry I can't remember
the title.
Great idea for a concert

Cynthia Powell
Music Director and Organist
Christ Episcopal Church
105 Cottage Place
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

In addition to the recent compilation of SSA/SATB combined numbers, one of
my favorites is Robert Scholz's fantasia on "Lo, How a Rose" for those two
choirs plus organ, keyboard, and optional handbells and flutes. It is a
stunningly beautiful piece using three different versions of the text for
that tune. Morningstar Publishers and not too expensive :-)

(I thought I'd replied to that posting. Dratted computers. Dumb slaves is
what I call them!)

Pax Domini sit semper tecum.

Patricia Warren, DMA
Fine Arts Chair and Choirmaster
St. Timothy's-Hale School (Episcopal)
3400 White Oak Road
Raleigh, NC 27609

*Do you know the Tavener Annunciation? It's quite difficult, I think (I
haven't sung it, only heard it), but fabulous. He almost pulls off making
the chorus sound like I imagine a choir of angels might sound. This was 3
or 4 years ago, but I believe I recall a solo quartet plus a Mary plus the
chorus. I'm only a retired chorister, so not familiar with all the
but there must be many places where you can look it up.

Swell theme idea -- good luck!

Sue Noble

Stephen A. Stomps, Director of Choirs
Auburn High School Choirs
250 Lake Avenue Extension
Auburn New York 13021
PH: 315-255-8341
FAX: 315-255-5876
HOME: 315-255-1783
email: steve_stomps(a)

on December 10, 2003 10:00pm
Robert Hugill, a London based contemporary classical composer, has written 'Here be Angels', a 15 minute piece for choir (SSAT / ATBB) and optional organ, which we publish. The first movement describes heaven using passages from 'The Celestial Hierarchy' by Dionysius the Pseudo Areopagite, the second covers the controversy over how many angels you can get on a pin and the third sets texts from Milton's Paradise Lost describing the Rebel Angels.

You can get more information, along with reviews and the libretto, from our web-site:

We might be able to get interested people a copy of the recording of a recent performance of the work given by London Concord Singers in 2002.

David Hughes
Spherical Editions, London
on September 17, 2005 10:00pm
Candlelight carol, Rutter
on April 27, 2006 10:00pm
*MANGER SCENE, THE (SATB/brief solos for a soprano and a bass-baritone) is a setting of what went on in the manger on the night when Christ was born. The music is in traditional harmony that supports flowing melodic lines. This work has been toured all over the nation by at least two fine college choirs.
on January 14, 2007 10:00pm
This anti-war song is the Sscond of "Drei Claudius Lieder": compositions by Huub de Lange on poems by Matthias Claudius.

THe direct link to the music is:
on January 27, 2007 10:00pm
More 'angelic' music by the same composer (see above):

ANGEL OF THE NIGHT is written on poem 69 of Lord Alfred Tennyson's "in Memoriam A.H.H."

Like "O Gottes Engel" also this recent composition (for mixed choir and chamber orchestra) can be downloaded via the link:
on May 15, 2008 10:00pm
How about the angel trio from Mendelssohn's Elijah? If memory serves, the text is "and He shall give His angels charge over thee".