Dr. Robert C. Mann
Resource Library Director
I have selected a variety of Pentecost and general anthems that will fill vocal requirements of most choirs. Choirs with limited resources will be able to find accessible, good music on this list. Anthems marked CPDL are FREE to you from our CMI website. Other anthems can be purchased directly or downloaded from the publisher. Compositions in the CMI On-line Choral Library have PDF’s and research information.
Let thy holy presence Pavel Tschesnokoff (Chesnokov) (1877-1944) Editor, Walter Ehret SATB (also SAB version) A Cappella Alfred Archive Edition 00-PROCH0514
Let thy holy presence come upon us Pavel Tschesnokoff Editor, Hal H. Hopson SATB/Organ Sacred Music Press 10/2784S
Let thy holy presence Pavel Tschesnokoff Editor, Noble Cain SATB A Cappella
Hal Leonard #BG2034 PRINT ON DEMAND
Gone are the days of having to sing the original 8-part version of this classic anthem requiring low B’s for the basses (unless your choir is equipped vocally to sing all the parts). This classic Pentecost anthem by Tschesnokoff is available in a variety of editions for choirs with more limited resources. (Regrettably, there does not seem to be a free version of this anthem with English text.) The Noble Cain edition is the 8-part original version in the key of B minor. Both the Ehret and Hopson editions are pitched higher (C minor and E minor) with the Ehret edition available for SAB voices. Hopson’s edition has organ accompaniment in a very easy setting for voices. Don’t deprive your choir of singing this wonderful music because you thought it too difficult.
Come, Holy Ghost Thomas Attwood (1765-1838) SATB/Organ Soprano Solo, CPDL #48320
This well-known Latin text by Rabanus Maurus (c.776-856), translated into English by John Cosin (1594-1672), was originally used as an Office hymn for Pentecost but can also work well as a text for Trinity Sunday. Attwood’s musical format is similar to Turn not thy face from my sins, discussed in Anthems for Lent, 2019. The opening stanza is sung by a soprano soloist and two harmonized stanzas for chorus follow. The voices sing a cappella, the organ provides simple interludes. Easy, lovely anthem.
If ye love me Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585) SATB A Cappella CPDL #21052
Thomas Tallis is one of the outstanding English composers of the 16th century, and this anthem can provide a first step in introducing his wonderful English or Latin motets and liturgical music to your choir. This music is identified by attractive, easy imitation between the voices that give emphasis to the limited text, John 14:15-17, the lectionary reading for Day of Pentecost, Year C. Every choir should sing this anthem.
Non vos relinquam Orphanos William Byrd (c.1540-1623) SSATB a cappella, CPDL #06545
I will not leave you comfortless William Byrd (c.1540-1623) SSATB a cappella, CPDL #00831
Elizabethan composer Byrd composed much of his sacred music with Latin texts. I am introducing the same composition in its original Latin version (original key) and in an English translation (transposed one step higher). The text is a composite from John 14:18 and John 16:22, an Antiphon to the Magnificat 1st Vespers on the Day of Pentecost. The motet begins with the melody in Soprano 1 imitated in the second measure in the Soprano 2 part. Two measures later, the melody is heard in the Tenor and imitated successively in Bass and Alto voices. The imitative voices never feel contrived, and a diatonic melody line is always flowing through the web of polyphony. I love the use of the word “Alleluia” as it appears melodically throughout the piece as it confirms each verse of scripture.
Veni Sancte Spiritus K 47 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart SATB/Organ SATB soloists, CPDL #15967
If you want a different musical approach to Pentecost this year, try this piece by the very young Mozart (12 years old!) originally composed for voices, strings, instruments, and organ. This arrangement eliminates all instrumental parts except organ, is neatly assembled, and quite easy to perform. Although the text is Latin, half the piece sings only the word “Alleluja.” The text is the Pentecost Antiphon that translates: “Come Holy Spirit: fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle your love in them. You have gathered the nations together in the unity of faith. Alleluia.”
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, God Hugo Distler (1908-1942) SAB A Cappella, CPDL #46256
This is the same Latin hymn attributed to Rabanus Maurus in the Attwood piece, but this composite English version is derived from a German translation of the Latin by Martin Luther (1483-1546). The chorale tune KOMM, HEILGER GEIST, O SCHÖPFER is quoted in the soprano voice. The seven strophic stanzas are sung by SAB or SA voices in alternate stanzas. (This piece could be sung SA throughout if desired.) This is an easy setting of this beautiful text.
Gracious Spirit, dwell with me K. Lee Scott 2-part mixed/Organ
The tune of this easy anthem is ADORO TE DEVOTE, and the text is the familiar one by Thomas T. Lynch (1818-1871) with a final stanza by the composer. The Gregorian melody of the tune flows easily and simply throughout the piece sung by unison voices or in canon between female and male voices. Throughout, the organ provides a sustained, supportive accompaniment for the voices. This is an excellent anthem for a choir limited in vocal resources or sight reading skills.
Come down, O Love Divine David Ashley White SATB/Organ Trumpet
Optional Congregation Selah Publishing Co. 405-619
Littledale’s English translation of Bianco da Siena’s hymn set to Vaughan Williams’ tune DOWN AMPNEY is a staple among hymns for Pentecost. This setting by David Ashley White provides an excellent arrangement for choir and organ that has an optional use of congregation in the third stanza. The first stanza is mostly unison with only six measures in 4-part harmony. The second stanza is 4-part with the melody primarily in the tenor voice. The final stanza has ATB voices and congregation singing the tune with a soprano descant. The trumpet is used in the introduction, first stanza, interlude to third stanza, and mostly doubles the soprano line in the final stanza.
Pentecost fire Jane Southwick Cool Unison Children/Piano
Choristers Guild CGA 502
This pleasing children’s anthem is based on the Acts 2 narrative of the Pentecost story. This easy anthem offers a diatonic melody that features repetition of melody and rhythms. Singers and congregation will enjoy the spirit and effectiveness of this account of the Pentecost event.
O Thou who camest from above Philip W. J. Stopford SATB/Organ
An excellent Charles Wesley text provides three stanzas sung to a newly composed tune repeated in each stanza. There is a lot of repetition in this anthem, melodically and rhythmically. In the final stanza, the melody is doubled in the male and female voices to give strength to Wesley’s strong concluding statement. Although not as easy to perform as the previous anthems of White and Scott, there is very little 4-part writing and the unison singing and doubling of voices simplify the difficulty of this piece considerably. This is a nice setting of a less familiar Pentecost text.
With a mighty wind and tongues of fire Hal H. Hopson SATB/Organ
Augsburg Fortress 978-1-4514-2081-4
This anthem offers a bright, dramatic setting of the Pentecost events as cited in Acts 2 plus several other scriptures selected and arranged by Mr. Hopson. The piece begins with an exciting rising scale passage in the organ preparing unison voices to sing “with a mighty wind.” There is a good deal of unison writing for voices as well as doubling in parts over big chords in the organ part that give intensity and move forward the narrative of the text. This anthem is stirring in its text painting between the organ part and the voices. This is a well-defined effort by Hopson and makes a definitive musical statement for Pentecost worship.
The Lamb John Ferguson SATB/Organ Clarinet Augsburg Fortress 978-1-5064-4754-4
This well-loved poem by William Blake (1757-1827) is the recipient of many musical settings. What sets this one apart from others is the expressive Clarinet part. Although identified as a SATB anthem, much of the writing is in unison or unison dialogue between male and female voices. This successful setting of this poem could be performed by a small group of singers.
Prayer of St. Columba Cecilia McDowall SAB/Organ Oxford University Press EVR 8
The anthems of British composer Cecilia McDowall are well-crafted and always special but usually too difficult for many smaller choirs. This anthem is an exception, offprinted from The Oxford Book of Easy Flexible Anthems (2017). The organ part (could be played on a piano) is rhythmically energetic, well articulated, and functions as a kind of ostinato supporting the voices. This anthem is appropriate for emphases of prayer and God’s love, and also suitable for Good Shepherd Sunday.
I’m gonna live so God can use me David Kidwell SATB/Piano
Sacred Music Press 10/4939S
If you have occasion to use this African-American spiritual in your worship, this new, spirited arrangement by Kidwell is a good option. The voice writing is conservative and suits the text well with a fitting piano accompaniment that does not distract. This setting will offer a joyful experience for both singers and listeners. This anthem could be used in a Service of Ordination or worship emphasizing evangelism or discipleship. The level of difficulty is easy.