Starting A Community Choir - Repertoire To Get Started

This article follows on from my previous post, which had some more general thoughts to starting a new choir. If you are starting a community choir, you may be wondering how to put together a collection of songs that are simple, lovely and accessible. You may also need them to be free if you haven’t started collecting subs and other funding.

Here are a few songs I have used with choirs to get started. I’ve only included public domain material, so you can get up and singing for the cost of photocopying.

Renaissance

Dindirin - Anonymous

This is an English translation of a Spanish piece published in the early 16th century. It is about the timeless story of a heartless, faithless lover who has moved on and asks an intermediary to deliver the ‘you’re dumped’ news.
Sheet Music

Elizabethan

Of All The Birds - Ravenscroft

I love the Elizabethan composer Thomas Ravenscroft. If you and your choir like his music, there are many more of his pieces on cpdl including a number of rounds. His secular works have a lusty Elizabethan sensibility which my adult choirs have all enjoyed.
Sheet Music

Tomorrow The Fox Will Come To Town - Ravenscroft

Sheet music

 

If your choir enjoys this Elizabethan music and wants to go further in this direction, cpdl has a wonderful book called the TUMS songbook with about 25 songs, most from this era.

Gospel

Winter’ll Soon Be Over

I cant find a recording online of this beautiful, simple piece. It is a wonderful piece for choirs to build confidence in choral singing.
Sheet Music

African Freedom Song

Ipharadisi

This song is included in the book Freedom Is Coming, if you and your choir want to sing more like this.
Sheet music

Folk

Stand By The Shore

The singers in this video are from my hometown of Adelaide in Australia, so I’m proud to include them! I’m not sure where this folk song originates - it may be a Shaker Hymn.
Sheet music

Sacred

The Shining Shore

I learnt this song from Sonsy, an Australian folk duo singing here. The only issue i see in the sheet music is how much movement there is in the bass line which may be too much for beginning choristers, so that may benefit from a quick simplification.
Sheet music

How Can I Keep From Singing

The first verse of this song seems universal in its message for singers, so a non sacred choir may enjoy just this verse. Once again, the bass line could be made simpler.
Sheet music

Canon

Dona Nobis Pacem

I chose this video in case your new community choir has a resident string orchestra!
Sheet music

And lastly, i would invite you to look over my catalogue of songs. They are all public domain - free to buy and free to use - and include a number of super simple songs that can be taught by ear very quickly to new choirs.