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Fear Not: Theme for Women's Choir

Fear Not is the theme for my women's ensemble concert in December.  I am looking for both secular and sacred choral pieces, accompanied or a cappella, appropriate for that theme.  Songs may be related to a holiday, but it is not necessary and music of all periods and genres will be considered.  My group of 20 women sings mainly in three and four parts and can handle some moderately difficult compositions.  Please offer some suggestions as titles on lists do not always reveal content.
Replies (22): Threaded | Chronological
on April 5, 2012 3:16pm
You might want to check out my "O Eve" which begins with the line, "My mother, my daughter, life-giving Eve; do not be ashamed, do not grieve" as Mary consoles Eve with news of her Child. It is a most unexpected perspective on that season.
Frank La Rocca
on April 5, 2012 4:05pm
May I suggest "Bread and Roses"?  It was recorded by Judy Collins in 1976, and here is a YouTube link to her rendition; there must be a choral arrangment for women's voices out there somewhere:   On my CD it notes that the song was composed by Mimi Farina and James Oppenheim (Farina Music, ASCAP).
You might also consider my piece, "I Dreamed I Was Flying."  Available (free) from under the SSAA tab.  A cappella, original music, original lyrics ("...And I was not afraid to soar, and feel my power flow..."): 
Best wishes for a great concert!
on April 5, 2012 4:20pm
Here's a link to the lyrics (original poem) of "Bread and Roses":
These lyrics seem particularly relevant now.
on April 5, 2012 4:24pm
My SSAA setting of the John Brainard poem, A Rainy Day, would fit this theme.  I'll paste the text below.  You can listen to a recording and view a perusal pdf in the ChoralNet Composition Showcase.   Or listen on my website (  I'd be happy to send you a pdf score if you are interested.  —Greg
A Rainy Day

It rains. What lady loves a rainy day?
Not she who puts prunella on her foot,
Zephyrs around her neck, and silken socks
Upon a graceful ancle -- nor yet she
Who sports her tasselled parasol along
The walks, beau-crowded on some sunny noon,
Or trips in muslin, in a winter's night
On a cold sleigh-ride -- to a distant ball.
She loves a rainy day who sweeps the hearth,
And threads the busy needle, or applies
The scissors to the torn or threadbare sleeve;
Who blesses God that she has friends and home;
Who, in the pelting of the storm, will think
Of some poor neighbour that she can befriend;
Who trims the lamp at night and reads aloud,
To a young brother, tales he loves to hear;
Or ventures cheerfully abroad, to watch
The bedside of some sick and suffering friend,--
Administering that best of medicine,
Kindness, and tender care, and cheering hope;
-- Such are not sad, e'en on a rainy day.

on April 6, 2012 6:03am
Hi Carla -- a lovely "Litany to St. Cecilia" uses the entire traditional Roman Catholic litany text, which extols Cecilila's bravery and devotion in the midst of struggle and even torture. Trinity High School (a girls' HS in the Chicago suburbs) commissioned me to write it last fall for their December concert.  It was as a big hit.  It's SSAA, about 6 minutes, a cappella, moderately difficulit but always tonal and with a strong rhythmic pulse and momentum.  Please e-mail me at singwow (at) if you would like to see an eval copy and a video. -- Jonathan Miller
on April 6, 2012 6:33am
Dear Carla,
My piece "Thou Knowest, Lord" might be appropriate. You can see a preview here:
If you'd like a full copy, please email me - chris(a)
Chris Hutchings
on April 6, 2012 6:40am
Nada te turbe by Joan Szymko; SSAA with cello, in Spanish and English
on April 6, 2012 9:22am
Please consider the following two titles.
Psalm 117, SSAA, ECS Publishing #5776, sung in English. Kindly follow the URL below to to listen to a performance by the Peace CollegeChamber Singers of Raleigh, NC, James S. Smith, conductor. This recording is used with the kind permission of James S. Smith.
Three Miniatures (1. The Lute, 2. The Thunderbolt, 3. The Sun), SSAA, ECS Publishing #5678, secular, sung in English (original Hebrew text by Judah alHarizi,13th century. Please copy each of the URLs below to a browser one-by-one to listen to a performance of this work by the women of the Philovox ensemble, Jennifer Lester, conductor. 
Thank you for your consideration.
Stanley M. Hoffman, Ph.D.
on April 6, 2012 10:47pm
Please consider my piece Let Evening Come.  SSAA plus piano. 4:30.  Not difficult.
The poem by Jane Kenyon suits your theme:

Here is a live performance by the Peninsula Women's Chorus:
It's published by William Thorpe.  If you buy it, make sure to get the treble version (Thorpe No. 392-03080),
since Thorpe also publishes a version for mixed chorus. 
Best wishes,
Brian Holmes
on April 7, 2012 6:58am
I suggest "Hold On" by Clifton Noble
and "Balm in Gilead" (from Thoughts and Remembrances) by Jackson Berkey
Someone has done a great SSAA arrangement of "Candle on the Water"...sorry very busy now - can't look it up.
on April 7, 2012 11:27am
Thank you to all of you who have responded to my query so far.  The thought behind your suggestions and their variety warms my heart.  You have all triggered much deeper thinking about my theme and every suggestion is part of my file for consideration.  Joan Szymko's Nada te Turbe is on order.  With ChoralNet, I no longer feel artistically alone!  With appreciation, Carla Strandberg
on April 9, 2012 7:23am
Great choice of themes!
A piece that fits it very well is "Still I Rise" by Rosephanye Powell (Gentry Publications JG2346).  The text is not the poem of this title by Maya Angelou, but rather is an original text also composed by Dr. Powell.  It is scored for SSAA with soloist, accompanied by piano.  It is in gospel style, and additional instruments may be added. At one point it goes into five parts, but they are easily covered.
My women's choir (14 voices) just used it as the closer for their part of our concert and it was very effective.  Both choir and audience loved it.
Richard Householder
University of Windsor
on April 9, 2012 11:35am
I have a big 8-movement work for SATB, trombone and piano called The Future of Life, about the need to preserve biodiversity in order to preserve the earth. The last two movements I could imagine fitting your theme, especially if fear not encompasses expressions of hope, comfort and support. The other movements are more of a warning. If they are of interest I could arrange them for SSAA with piano only for performance simplicity:
  • The Bee Song, a non-religious prayer, giving thanks for a community that nourishes (more complex than that but that's the idea) - doesn't include trombone
  • Grand Grand Mother is returning, about cycles and the awakening of our consciousness
And to a performance by The Master Singers of Lexington, MA, Adam Grossman conducting:
on April 9, 2012 1:47pm
Hi Carla!
Please take some minutes to listen to my verion of Fear Thuo Not.
If You like what You hear then You will find the sheetmusic for free here:
Best regards
Mårten Jansson
on April 10, 2012 5:54am
How about "Lift Thine Eyes" by Mendelssohn, from Elijah?  I did this with my three-part church choir last year, and it's a gorgeous piece.  It seems to be readily available in SSA.
on April 10, 2012 7:33am
Hi Carla,
I have a recent setting of Psalm 13 for women's voices.  It is scored for organ and requires some divisi but could be done quite well by 20 voices.  I would be happy to supply you with a score and recording.
Scott A. Taylor
on April 11, 2012 5:10am
Karin Rehnqvist, the Swedish composer, has some wonderful music for female choir. The one closest to your theme is Triumf att finnas till (A triumph to exist, 1990), but it is a very demanding work. However, there is a lovely little two-part song called Do not fear darkness (Var inte rädd för mörkret, from Songs from the Earth, 1992). Also I himmelen (In heaven's hall 1998), while not directly connected to your theme, is a brave and strong piece based on a lovely old Swedish hymn. Have a look and listen at:
on April 14, 2012 9:19am
Psalm 13 by Brahms (SSA, accompanied) is a gem. 
I'm not one to promote my own pieces very often, but I have a simple setting of Psalm 143 that I wrote shortly after 9/11/01 which my women's choir found very inspiring this past fall which I would be happy to share. 
Perhaps Mendelssohn's Veni Domine (more of a plea for help, which might set up some other pieces?)
on April 15, 2012 10:36am
I second the notion of "Still I Rise" by Powell.  GREAT piece, and all about empowering females.  Also, look at some of the published material by Sweet Honey in the Rock.  As an all female group, they have some great examples of things you could use for the subject of "Fear Not...".    Maybe you could even search their name on youtube to see what you come up with?   Good luck.  Would be nice for you to re-post what your choices are after you have chosen!   kathy c 
on April 16, 2012 6:22am
Still I Rise
Rosaphayne Powell
on April 16, 2012 7:50am
My piece "I Will Be With You" might fit the bill.  Lush harmonies, a little tricky but really satisfying.  Available in SSAA and SATB.  If you'd like to see a score sample, please visit  Happy hunting!

If there is rain or sunshine
If there is joy or sorrow
If there are tears or singing
        know I will be with you

If there is pain or pleasure
If there is light or darkness
If there are doubts or praises
        know I will be with you

And when we meet again in another time
I will be a friend through the dark
I'll carry you on and hold you in my arms
Safe from harm as we journey on to the morning

on April 16, 2012 11:47am
Here's a "blast from the past"--in 1975, a set of four Emily Dickinson poems I'd set for SA voices was published.  They're on the light, even whimsical side, but two of them, I think, would fit your theme pretty well, particularly if you want to include a spirited sort of fearlessness that may include a wink!
The two I have in mind are "How happy is the little stone" and "Surgeons must be very careful".  The former is about the little stone that "rambles down the road alone" and "exigencies never fears."
Although they're out of print, my understanding is that the publisher can do "print on demand."  (My name at the time was Allyson Brown, by the way.)
Let me know if you're interested.
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