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Looking for Advent/Christmas music by U.S. composers

I know, shoot me for being some kind of gungho redneck patriot.  I'm not, but as I started building a program around several pieces, suddenly realized I had a theme going: Pinkham, Berkey, Burt, LaRocca, hammer dulcimer, appalachian.  So if you have some great stuff that fits one of these criteria, drop me a direct line either through ChoralNet or at james(dot)feiszli(at)sdsmt(dot)edu :
U.S. citizen as composer
SATB (divisi is OK - but I have plenty of men, so will avoid SSAATB things unless my first tenors can do the A2)
unaccompanied or hammer dulcimer - I happen to have the services of Lucille Reilly at my disposal this year.  She married an alum!
sacred text/theme - we do the concert in a Catholic cathedral so Vatican rules apply. I can stretch them sometimes, but "deck the halls" is out.
language - no issues with any western languages
I have already gone through everything posted in this community.
Replies (25): Threaded | Chronological
on July 23, 2014 2:42pm
Hi James,
Please have a look at the score of "And Still The Stars Shine"  SATB w/piano.
Do not yet have recording, but could email you a midi-realization.
on July 23, 2014 3:22pm
see you tube for ssatb. also, Ballad of the Maji for 3t or satb. new Ave Maria and Emmanuel and several more. no fees.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 23, 2014 5:10pm
Charles, your song is really beautiful.  I didn't know you could put mp3 sound bytes on ChoralNet until now.
Maybe I have close to 100 Christmas choral works on my web site: .  If anything you find there is attractive to you, please
send me a title or titles and I'll send you pdf and mp3 files from .  Most of my pieces have live performances on mp3 files.
My piece, Why Do I Remember Christmas?  won a spot on the 2014 C7 International Choral Music Competition.  It's a canon for SATB/piano.
For some reason, this won't play!  I have Audacity on my I-Mac.  Maybe that's why?
on July 23, 2014 3:28pm
Here are three of my a cappella/sacred Christmas pieces.  Like Burt, 
I have written new carols yearly; these originated as musical Christmas Cards.
I saw a fair maiden (updated medieval text).  Published by Thorpe.  You can
sample the piece here.
King Herod's Carol (my text).  Unpublished.  Sopranos occasionally divisi.
An updating of Coventry Carol.  A recording may be heard here.  Since the
subject matter is the slaughter of the innocents, it may work better
after Chirstmas
A Carol for Christmas Eve (Eleanor Farjeon). Unpublished.  Let
me know if you care to see a score.  I don't have a recording of the
unaccompanied version.
The following was published for chorus and oboe.  Perhaps it would
be workable with hammered dulcimer playing some adaptation
of the oboe part.
Kings Came Riding (Charles Williams).  Published by Thorpe.  You
can sample score pages here.  I would be glad to transpose the
piece into G, which is probably a better key for the dulcimer.
Brian Holmes
on July 23, 2014 6:53pm
Sorry!  I forgot to mention my new a cappella version of Silent Night.  
Of course,  your congregation might not like it, since I wrote my own tune,
and the Vatican might disapprove, since it is in Pig Latin.  But this piece
is guaranteed to bring tears to the eyes of those whose ancestors
spoke and sang this language in the Old Country.
on July 23, 2014 4:25pm
Hi James. 
I hope you'll take a look at some of my work here:

Most of it is sacred, but there are a few secular Christmas pieces as well.  Thanks, and good luck finding what you're looking for amongst us less well known (unknown?) composers.
Chris Humphrey
on July 23, 2014 4:45pm
Hi Jim!
What would you think of The Fiddler's Fare for fiddle, flute and hammered dulcimer?  Also, I have The Fiddler's Fair (TTBB/violin)  If you tell me the "theme" that you have in mind, I probably can suggest another piece or two.  Please see if any of the titles or descriptions on are
attractive to you.  If you send me a title, I'll send you a pdf and an mp3 of the piece.
on July 23, 2014 6:18pm
Hi, James,
If you've been through the whole Composer's Marketplace, then I guess you've seen my O magnum mysterium.  It has a full-blown fugue on the word "Alleluia."  In case you missed it, you can see/hear/purchase the score here:
Take a look, too, at an arrangement I made of Stille Nacht (Silent Night).  You can do it in German or in English; both languages are printed in the score.  You can see/hear/purchase it here:
I'd also suggest A Christmas Diptych, published by ECS.  The text comes from the passage in Luke in which the angels tell the shepherds, "Fear not, for behold I bring you tidings of great joy..." etc. You can see/hear the score here:
and purchase it here:
Finally, I'd offer a piece that has been performed a great deal on Christmas concerts in recent years: my Dona nobis pacem.  It is also published by ECS and available in SSATTBB and TTBB voicings (in case you want to do a separate piece with just your T's/B's -- you said you have a lot of them!)  You can see/hear it here: (TTBB version) (SSATTBB version)
and purchase it here:
Thanks for considering my music!  Best of luck putting together your program.
Joseph Gregorio
on July 24, 2014 5:10am
James -- it's terrific you are focusing on American Christmas compositions!  However you hit upon the idea, I think it shows sophistication and innovation.  Here are a few "standard repertoire" suggestions and a couple from my own catalogue.
Colonial composer William Billings wrote several worthy carols.  "A Virgin Unspotted" (Judea), "Methinks I See A Heavenly Host" (Shiloh or Boston), and/or "While Shepherds Watched" (Bethlehem) are three you might consider.  You can find various editions online, commercial and free.  Amy Beach in the 19th century wrote "Constant Christmas" for sopr, alto & ten soli, SATB & organ, available from St. James Music Press.  Charles Ives "A Christmas Carol" (little child of Bethlehem) is another classic that reportedly he used with his church choir.  As one of his solo songs it's free on the internet, but I haven't found a public domain edition of the choral setting.  The Paul Echols edition (Merion/Presser) is readily available for sale.  For more inspiration, I recommend three CD's:  An American Christmas by Boston Camerata, And Glory Shone Around by The Rose Ensemble, and Christmas In The New World by The Western Wind.  
You'll get lots or suggestions from living American composers, I'm sure.  I'd offer "Sweetest Music, Softly Stealing," a great Shaker song arranged for SATB a cappella (review score and details at this link).  "Behold That Star" arranges this joyful spiritual for baritone solo, SATB & organ (details here).  And "Christmas Processional" has been one of my most popular original pieces, for SAB, flute/oboe & organ (details here).  If that's not enough, more of my Christmas/Advent pieces can be found at this index!
Whatever you program, keep up the great work and best wishes, chris
on July 24, 2014 6:44am
 Greetings, James
If you don't know of it already, you might take a look at my Noel, Noel, Glad Tidings to Tell. It uses an otherwise unknown late 17th century French Noel melody, to which I added three verses that I wrote. Should barely get to it easily from my page in ChoralNet, or from my own website
Good luck and happy hunting!
on July 24, 2014 7:02am
Hi James --
You might like my setting of "See How the Virgin Waits for Him." The melody is an old Slovak folk tune, but I don't think it would sound out of place amidst your Appalachiana. Lovely text by Willard Jabusch (American). Here's the link:
It sounds like a very nice program. What cathedral?
on July 26, 2014 11:36pm
Hello James,

Three recommendations from me. Two are settings of O Magnum Mysterium, one by myself (for SSAATTBB, sorry), the other by John Harbison (just SATB, without divisi).

A recording of the SSSSAAAA version of my setting is on my composition page:

The other is a Christmas hymn of mine, to the text "Hush, all ye sounds of war." Verse 1 is on Soundcloud:

If either of mine strike your fancy, I can e-mail you a preview copy.
on July 27, 2014 3:13am
While scored for harp or handbells, this could be done easily with a hammer dulcimer (love that sound!!) Once in the City (click the title to link to a recording.)
These are my personal favorites, but are for SSA a cappella: This Day  and Child of Mine  (the recording of the latter needs a bit more soft give and take, but that is just IMHO ;) )
I will look for more.
I could write Christmas Carols year round!
on July 28, 2014 10:32am
I'm re-doing my site; there's hardly anything up at present. So, I'll send you an email with some attachments instead.
on July 29, 2014 3:51pm
Hello James,

I have several Christmas pieces that fit your criteria. My piece "The Shepherds and the Angels" is a Christmas spiritual (original) written in the Appalachian vein. It is a cappella, has some divisi, but not much alto splitting. It is joyous and has been very well received by singers and listeners. I do not have an available recording at this time, but would be happy to email you a perusal score at your request.

Also my piece "Our Lamb is Born" is a sweet a cappella carol setting beautiful poetry (by Heidi Sandvik) and has no divisi, Matthew Curtis has made a demo recording of it, but I'm waiting on the final draft, which should be finished in a few days. I would be happy to send a perusal score and the demo recording once I have it.

God bless,
Michael Sandvik

on August 7, 2014 10:39am
I'm late to this thread, but I also have a "Shepherds and Angels". It's a set of 9 American Christmas songs, for SATB, violin, harp. More information and a recording from the New England premiere here:
I'm very fond of American originals! Nothing wrong with musical patriotism. The Genevans, directed Robert Copeland, gave the world premiere. He found out about it here, in these forums.
I also have an original poem set for SATB with cello, "Windshine", a winter carol celebrating peace.  This piece has been recorded, but I don't know of a premiere performance. You could be first.
on August 7, 2014 11:47am
Hi James,
I have a trio of pieces for choir that's not difficult and has a minimum of divisi. Christmas, Christmas Eve and Christmastide for choir and 2 violins and cello. The poetry is by Christina Rossetti. Also Epiphany with piano accompaniment and Epiphanytide acapella with the same author.
Also I have an O magnum mysterium for choir and harp that is of medium difficulty. 
My arrangement of Whatcha Gonna Call your Pretty Little Baby? is available from Gentry Publications.
on August 7, 2014 2:04pm
Hi James,
I, too, am late to the party, but  I have a new arrangement of the lovely Christmas carol, "The Cherry Tree Carol" for SATB and piano (could be transcribed for dulcimer) that was beautifully recorded by Matthew Curtis of ChoralTracks.  It can be found here on the ChoralNet (mp3 recording and pdf score file) or on my website:
The Premiere (with piano) has been spoken for with thanks to ChoralNet!  I'll share with all when the right time comes:-)!
on August 8, 2014 5:48am
Hi James and others -- for Advent, I have a new setting of the O Antiphons for SATB & organ -- with Latin or poetical English text.  It's in 8 short movements, totalling about 20 minutes.  Interesting music but accessible for singers and audience.  Good to showcase a nice organ allong with a decent choir.  Possible to perform individual selections in addition to the whole piece.  Commissioned by a German choir, it will premiere this December.  There's no U.S. premiere yet confirmed.  If you are interested, email me and I'll gladly send a perusal score with audio file.  
Christopher J. Hoh
on August 9, 2014 8:47am
Here are 4 arrangements and/or editions of early American Christmas songs. "Hush, My Babe"  and "O thou Who By  Star" are published by Boosey and Hawkes. "Brightest and Best" and "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" are self published.
My arrangement of "Lo, How a Rose" is self published.
Original Christmas pieces, "Before the Paling of the Stars," and "The Snow Lies Still Upon the Earth," are self published while "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men" is published by Boosey and Hawkes. You may peruse and listen to them at
Sounds like a very interesting program you're doing.
on August 9, 2014 9:58am
I know that this is coming very late, and that you may have done it before. But anyway:
If you do not have received enough answers, search in Musica (, with the "More criteria" search form:
If you give as criteria :
- "Christmas" in the Keywords or ... or...
- and  "USA" in the field "Country of the composer", you will find 2161 titles...
So you can add other criteria to narrow the search like "English" as a language , "mixed" as a type of choir, "brass" in type of instrumentation, "sacred" as another Keyword (just write it beside Christmas already written), etc...
You may even find some records input by you :-)) or coming from your datafile Choref!
But you know this, and this posting is rather dedicated to those who do not think on using Musica for this kind of questions... It is such a gold mine of ideas...
Kind regards,
on August 25, 2014 4:00pm
Also late to the party, but I have written a set of three original O Antiphons plus an arrangement of O Come O Come Emmanuel that matches them in tone/style.  They can be performed as a complete set, or individually. The three O Antiphons are SATB, and the O Come Emmanuel has several sections with divisi.  Ping me at, and I'll be happy to send you the PDF scores.
Blaise Douros
on August 26, 2014 6:38am
I'd love to suggest "Sleep, Little Baby, Sleep." Listen here:
Click here for a perusal score and more info. Scores are available through JR Music.
All best,
Jake Runestad, composer
on August 26, 2014 2:29pm
Hi, James.
I, too, am a bit late entering this conversation. But I'd like to suggest "Sleep Well, Thou Child of God" by David R. Umla (published by Paraclete Press). Original words and music. SATB (a cappella) with some divisi. You can view the music and listen to sample audio here:
It received its first recording by the Bach Choir of Bethlehem in 2013 and is available on A Child's Christmas in Bethlehem (Analekta).
If you need more information, reply to me privately. Thanks, and good luck with your program.
on August 27, 2014 6:44am
Lots of great stuff here! I know you'll find something from this rich set of offerings.
I have a number of pieces in this vein - you can peruse my liturgical music here: 
For example this Sara Teasdale setting (the solo can be any melody instrument):
Robin McClellan
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