Choral Classics Every Choir Should Know

Robert C. Mann, D. M. A., Resource Library Director

I think many of us are frequently curious to see suggested lists of any kind. And, with such an overwhelmingly large repertoire of sacred choral music, it can be informative to see what “best” choices are recommended for use. Hence, a list of anthems that “every choir should know” allows comparison of what my choral group sings with what someone else thinks we should be singing.

On July 12, 2017, Mark Lawson, CEO of ESC Publishing Group, moderated a discussion at the Conference of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians on the topic Choral Classics Every Choir Should Know. Four panelists, Preston Dribble, Anthony DiCello, Rick Gibala, and Jennifer Pascual created a list of 166 sacred compositions “every choir should know” from the Renaissance through the present. The complete list can be found at Panelists recommending each title are identified, and the list represents a wide range of music publishers.

To see the full list, go to the website and pull it up for yourself. However, to pique your interest, I list the 22 compositions all four panelists agree, “every choir should know.” Titles can be found in the Church Music Institute Choral Library along with most of the other titles in the complete list.

How many of these anthems are in your repertoire? Remember, a choir’s theological statement is identified by the anthems it sings. If you are a member of CMI, use this link to the Choral Library,, and experience yourself how these anthems can be planned into the liturgical year in your church’s services using CMI’s data for each piece.

Byrd, William Ave verum corpus
Farrant, Richard Lord, for thy tender mercy’s sake
Palestrina, Giovanni P. Sicut cervus
Pitoni, Giuseppe Cantate Domino
Tallis, Thomas If ye love me
Viadana, Ludovico da Exultate justi
Victoria, Tomas Luis Ave Maria
Victoria, Tomas Luis Hosanna filio David
Victoria, Tomas Luis O magnum mysterium
Mozart, W. A. Ave verum corpus
Attwood, Thomas Teach me, O Lord
Mendelssohn, Felix How lovely are the messengers
Stainer, John God so loved the world
Berger, Jean The eyes of all wait upon Thee
Biebl, Franz Ave Maria
Duruflé, Maurice Ubi caritas
Friedell, Harold Draw us in the Spirit’s tether
Howells, Herbert Like as the hart
Latona, Peter Mandatum
Manz, Paul E’en so, Lord Jesus
Stopford, Phillip The Spirit of the Lord
Thomson, Virgil My Shepherd will supply my need