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BEST SATB Christmas Music with Harp

Hi All,
I would like some suggestions for the BEST Christmas pieces you have done with harp beside Susa's Carols and Lullabies and Britten's Ceremony of Craols.  Can be challenging.  Fine carol arrangements also welcome.  Thanks!
Nancy Menk
Replies (28): Threaded | Chronological
on May 29, 2014 8:08am
My arrangement of Silent Night for Flute, Harp and SATB Choir has been sung many times around the world.
Stuart McIntosh
on May 29, 2014 10:05am
Michael Fink's "What Sweeter Music" published by ECS is quite nice.  Shifting rhythms, lovely voicing.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 2, 2014 9:32am
This piece is DIVINE!  And is a MUST for any program of SATB and harp.  It can also be done with classical guitar, making it very useful for addition in any choral library.
on May 29, 2014 11:28am
Do you mean for chorus with harp accompaniment only, or also larger instrumentations that include a harp?  Gerald Finzi's In Terra Pax is a gorgeous work for S, B, SATB chorus, strings, harp and cymbals.  Text from Robert Bridges and St. Luke (Boosey, 15 min).  I listen to it every year, and am always moved by its beauty and perfection.
Kevin Lash
Princeton, NJ
on May 29, 2014 11:45pm
Hi Nancy.
I have composed The Shephed and the King for SATB + harp.  The poem
is by Eleanor Farjeon.  This carol won the Welcome Christmas! contest of
VocalEssence.  They have recorded it.  You can sample (or purchase)
their recording here.  It is published by William Thorpe.  Score pages and
an audio snippet are here.  
Brian Holmes
on May 30, 2014 6:37am
Hi Nancy, 
Here is a short list that I put together on your subject. I especially like the Heitzeg and Hawley pieces. Good luck!
All the best,
Joshua Habermann
Conductor, Dallas Symphony Chorus
Music Director, Santa Fe Desert Chorale
La Montaine   The Nine Lessons of Christmas         
                      (Mixed voices, soloists and harp)
Jeffrey Van - Mexican Carol El Rorro (The Babe) (SATB & Harp)
            YouTube link:
Giles Swaine: The Coventry Carol (SATB, Harp)
Thomas Cabaniss: Behold the Star (SATB, harp)
Lee R. Kesselman: Jesus Born in Bethlea (SATB, harp)
Stephen Paulus, Jesu Carols: Four Carols for Christmas (Mixed Chorus and Harp)
Hawley - Dies Significatus
Hetzeg - Little Tree
Applauded by an audience of 2
on May 30, 2014 8:34am
Hi Nancy,
My volunteer church choir just featured some pieces with harp as part of our Lessons and Carols service this past December. As I planned the service I found several pieces on the repertoire list on the choralnet should check there if you haven't already. These are the pieces we used (the choir loved them and the response was positive) and some other recommended pieces that we considered:
  • Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus, by Berkey....go to youtube and search for fsweeden. You will find my choir doing it and information about the piece (part of a collection in which we considered serveral of these)
  • The Shepherd and the King, by Brian Holmes
  • Silent Night, arr. Matthew Culloton
And some others we considered:
  • What Child Is This, arr. Dale Warland
  • What Sweeter Music, Michael Fink
  • Ave Maria, Schubert / Richard Proulx
  • He Came Here For Me, Ron Nelson
If you have trouble finding any of these, let me know and I will find publisher info for you.
Good luck!
on May 30, 2014 9:25am
Several things come to mind:
Rutter's What Sweeter Music works beautifully with harp rather than organ.
Frank Ferko's A Festival of Carols and Kirke Mechem's 7 Joys of Christmas (both SATB div. & harp; both ECS Music) are little known and well worth performing. There is also a suite of 3 secular carols for the same forces called Gaudete pub. Boosey & Hawkes; the composer's name ecapes me.
And I have a number of shorter pieces (original & arr.) for various combinations with harp:
Images of Christmas (orig. pub. Thomas House; available as a custom print from Fred Bock Music Co.); SATB div. + opt. 2-pt treble choir; you may listen here:
The following scores are available from me directly:
Wexford Carol (SSAA, Bar solo, hp):
Lesley Hopwood Meyer; arr. yours truly: The Star Carol (SATB div; S solo, hp):
Lesley Hopwood Meyer; arr. yours truly: Sun of Righteousness (TTBB, fl, hp):
Plus: (recordings/scores available directly from me unless otherwise indicated)
Lesley Hopwood Meyer; arr. yours truly: Now All is Well (SATB div, hp)
Lesley Hopwood Meyer; arr. yours truly: The Time Draws Near (SSAA, fl, hp, opt handbells)
Lesley Hopwood Meyer; arr. yours truly: Nunc Gaudet Maria (SSAA, hp, opt. hand drum). May still be available from OUP.
Arr. yours truly: The Angel Gabriel (versions for SSAA, S solo & hp and SATB, Mz solo & hp). May still be available from OUP.
Hope this helps!
Robert A.M. Ross
Chair, Music Department
Community College of Philadelphia
robertamross(a) <Robert Ross 11>
on May 30, 2014 2:50pm
No one has mentioned a lovely piece by David Conte (composer and conductor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music).  He wrote "The Snow Lay on the Ground" for SATB, harp and organ.  The harmonies are unusual.  ECS music.   We performed it with harp and piano, which worked all right but honestly harp and organ would be better.  Beautiful piece, however.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 30, 2014 6:31pm
I was just looking at the Dale Warland Singers program archive (on University of Cincinnati Libraries website), and happened to come across an American Harp Society concert on which they sang.  Here is their program of pieces which might be of interest to you:
Kevin Lash
Princeton, NJ
on May 31, 2014 6:02am
Dear Nancy,  My new Christmas carol The Age Old Reason for Joy has simple chord accompaniment that could work for harp.  Everything needed for learning and performance is available as free downloads including the SATB score in both portarit and landscape formats, a 2 part score for schools and young choristers, the piano chords along with other aids plus you can see and hear a performance via a YouTube link. 
Good luck and joyous singing
on May 31, 2014 6:21am
Hi Nancy,
Two reviews of my arrangement of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (tune: St. Louis.) Preview here. Listen here. Happy searching! dET
O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM, David Evan Thomas (ECS Publishing 7259), SATB and harp. This is a setting of the familiar hymn  with a beautifully constructed harp part. The composer has set the melody in each verse with a lovely diversity, concluding with a triumphant “our Lord Emmanuel.“ Harpist will love their part! Definitely worth a look. –Philip Brunelle, The American Organist, December 2011.
This anthem, originally composed in 2006, will find its place in the Christmas repertoire of fine choral groups and a harpist of caliber and sensitivity. The congregational effect is astoundingly sublime. –D. Sida Roberts. THE HYMN, Vol. 62, No. 2, Spring/Summer 2011
on May 31, 2014 7:47am
Hello Nancy,
Not sure if you have sung the Three Appalachian Carols (I Wonder as I wander, Jesus the Christ is Born, and Jesus, Jesus Rest Your Head– all available separately) which I arranged for SATB and harp or piano.
I can also suggest A Child's Carol , an original carol that I wrote so long ago that many consider it 'traditonal' (!) that is published by Canadian International Music (Lorenz - USA). It has a harp accompaniment as well a different piano accompaniment. The harp accompaniment is available from A Tempo.
It may be seen and heard at where the SA version is heard accompanied by harp. Both carols are also arranged for SSA.
on June 1, 2014 3:57am
For a challenging modern work (particularly for the harp) you might consider a group of items by a Catholic musician Fr Christopher Willcock called "Southern Star".  Details can be found at ...  This is a not a work for inexperienced performers however, but is particularly rewarding for all.  The theme is Christmas in its modern setting with the words by an Australian Philosopher of sorts.
on June 1, 2014 6:46am
A phenomenal piece to consider is Britten's "This Little Babe."  
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 2, 2014 6:01am
I second Kevin Lash's recommendation of the Finzi In terra pax. Be warned, however, that it is not easy; a moderately advanced church/community chorus is required to pull it off, as well as more-than-competent baritone and soprano soloists. The chorus splits into six at "Glory to God in the highest"; I handled it SSAATB to work with an overbalanced chorus, and it worked fine. The harp part is prominent and very nice. The string parts are heavenly; you'll need a lot of divisi for them. If you work through the score, you'll find the absolute minimum number of strings needed to handle all divisi passages, but for better balance, I tweaked those numbers and arrived at 4-4-4-3-2.
It's a magnificent piece.
on June 2, 2014 6:04am
No one has mentioned Jackson Berkey's "Still, Still Night." It is a beautiful arrangement of the traditional Silent Night.
on June 2, 2014 6:45am
Hope you'll consider my Harp Carol -- published by Alliance -- info, including link to Alliance catalog, available at:
All best!
Jonathan Santore
on June 2, 2014 6:51am
If strings are available, the Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio has some wonderful writing for the harp.
on June 2, 2014 12:21pm
The harp writing for the Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio is indeed wonderful, but unfortunately, almost all of the harp writing is in the solo movements. During most of the chorus parts, the harp is tacet.
Incidentally, for anyone considering the Saint-Saëns, I encourage you to check out my edition, published by Colla Voce:
Also, I am currently preparing a monograph which should be complete by August which gives historical, analytical, and practical information on rehearsing and performing the work.
on June 2, 2014 8:53am
my choral cycle for choir and harp (including two soprano solo movements) has been very well received, with performances by various choirs including Canada's Elmer Iseler Singers.  These links are to a perusal score and sample recording by one of my choirs:
THE SUNNE OF GRACE (with harp) 20 minutes
sound files:
The score is available from me (hard copy or licensed print file).
Leonard Enns
on June 30, 2014 4:49pm
Thanks to you all....some great suggestions here!
on July 1, 2014 6:53am
From ECS Publishing, a sampling:
CONTE, David: Snow Lay on the Ground, The, #6419, (SATB, harp & keyboard);
CONVERY, Robert: Nativity of our Lord, The, #6490, (SATB, harp, cello) (major work);
CONVERY, Robert: Young Jesus Sweit, #6029, (SATB, harp);
FERKO Frank: Festival of Carols, A (score), #6195, (SATB chorus & harp)  (major work);
FINK, Michael: What Sweeter Music, #2771, (SATB, harp, guitar or piano and triangle);
HAWKINS, Malcolm: Four Carols, #5498, (SATB, harp or kbd);
HOPKINS, James: In Excelsis Gloria, #4707, (SATB, Harp, Piano);
MECHEM, Kirke: Seven Joys of Christmas, #2709, (SATB, Harp, kbd);
MOONEY, David, arr.:  Don Oiche Ud I mBeithil (from "David Mooney Irish Choral Series"), #5929, (S solo, SATB & Harp or Kbd);
MOONEY, David, arr.:  Sauntrai na Maighdine (from "David Mooney Irish Choral Series"), #5930, (SATB & Harp or Keyboard);
SAMETZ, Steven: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming, #7843, (Antiphonal SSAA, SATB & Harp)
SIRETT, Mark: Oxen, The, #6415, (SATB & Harp or Piano);
THOMAS, David Evan: O Little Town of Bethlehem (Score), #7259, (SATB & Harp).
Stanley M. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Chief Editor
Canticle Distributing, 1727 Larkin Williams Road Fenton, MO 63026-2024
ph 800-647-2117 (USA only)
ph. 636-305-0100 (outside USA and inside metro St. Louis)
fax 636-305-0121
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 2, 2014 3:38am
The Kirke Mechem "Seven Joys of Cjhristmas" is especially nice - glad to see it on this list!
Best wishes,
on July 2, 2014 9:53am
I haven't seen mentioned yet Stephen Paulus' beautiful setting of "How Far is it to Bethlehem" for SATB, harp, and oboe.  It is published by augsburg.
also Daniel Pinkham's lovely piece "Evergreen" is for unison choir and flexible instrumentation, of which harp is an option.  Although it is unison do not discredit its usefulness for a mixed adult choir, because it is still plenty challenging and well worth learning.
Julie Ford
on July 2, 2014 3:51pm
Hi Nancy!
This arrangement is available for SATB too with or without strings (but preferably with piano apart from the harp)
on July 3, 2014 8:17pm
Hi Nancy
You might consider my setting of Hardy's "The Oxen" published by ECS.  Philip Brunelle has performed it and recommended it highly in The American Organist:  an atmospheric setting by the Canadian composer Mark Sirett. know how beautifully he writes for voices. This is another gem with a finely wrought harp part.
on August 18, 2014 5:14am
Try my O Magnum Mysterium. It is for harp or piano, with an optional orchestral version if you want to "biggy size" it.
Best of luck,
Timothy Michael Powell
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