You know it’s coming. It’s not like it can sneak up on you! Christmas comes the same time every year.

But each year, you can catch yourself asking the same question that many other church music directors ask –

How do I plan creative, yet accessible music for my small choir?

It’s a challenge, for sure. There’s NOT a lot of resources out there for the small choir. But it’s not impossible. You just have to get creative.

If your choir is like most of the choirs that I’ve worked with, then it’s hurting for tenors and basses. This is a problem because a lot of choral music is composed/arranged for the standard SATB voicing.

And you need to be programming music composed for SAB voices (soprano, alto, and bass).

Here’s why –

1.) The bass part in SAB music is written in an accessible way for both tenors and basses – not too high and not too low

2.) You’re doubling your forces by combining the tenor and bass parts. This is a great benefit as most men are hesitant to sing out when there are only two or three singers in their section. There’s strength in numbers. Believe me. They will sing more confidently when they’re surrounded by other men!

3.) The overall balance improves due to having appropriate numbers in each section.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “yes, I understand this, but I’m not finding creative, well-crafted, and accessible SAB cantatas!”

And you’re right!

It’s tough to find Christmas cantatas strictly composed for SAB voices. It’s downright hard to find well-crafted SAB music, period.

Many SAB pieces are dumbed down, trite, and the combined tenor and bass part just isn’t that fun to sing!

But you can still program quality SAB music for your small choir this Christmas!

I’m a huge fan of piecing programs together as opposed to purchasing “canned” cantatas for two reasons –

1.) It allows you, the director, a lot more flexibility and freedom to pick music that speaks to you, your choir, and congregation.

2.) Not everyone is doing it. So your program will be unique!

One of my favorite publishers who includes some fantastic SAB pieces/arrangements in their catalog is Beckenhorst Press.

Craig Courtney, Dan Forrest, Howard Helvey, and others are doing a wonderful job creating quality pieces for use in worship.

Another option is sifting through the Choral Public Domain Library. Didn’t know this existed? Many don’t! And it can be a fantastic resource.

And of course, we publish high quality and well-crafted SAB (two-part and other voicings) pieces and arrangements at RCM. In fact, we just released two new Christmas arrangements inside the RCM Membership Community.

These are some of the finest resources you’ll find for quality SAB music, but you’ll still have to sift through some music within each catalog to find music that speaks to you, your choir, and congregation.

Let me help take some of the pressure off this Fall season by listing a few of my favorite SAB pieces for the small choir. These are quality, creative, and accessible pieces that have served me well over the years –

Breath of Heaven (SAB) – Arr. Craig Courtney (Beckenhorst Press)

The First Noel/Pachelbel’s Canon (Three-Part Mixed) – Arr. Michael Clawson (Alfred)

Silent Night (SAB/optional strings) – Arr. Chris Owenby (RCM)

Inscription of Hope (Three-Part Mixed) – Z. Randall Stroope (Heritage Music Press)

Lullaby (SAB) – John Ness Beck (Beckenhorst Press)

Alleluia from Cantata # 142 – J.S. Bach (Not SAB, but certainly doable by a small and mighty choir!)

I hope you’ve found these tips for programming accessible and well-crafted music for your small but mighty choir this Christmas to be helpful!

Feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments section below.

Happy planning, friends!


Consider joining the RCM Membership Community for unlimited access to our growing online catalog of SAB (and other voices) choral music, including classic Christmas titles. Click the pic below for more information and sign up today!

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