May 7, 2016

Chancel Choir

The Music Ministries of Trussville First Methodist are the key to our worship services. Here, you will find many opportunities to spread God’s message through the wonder of music. We welcome all, regardless of experience!

Dr. Karen Marrolli is our Director of Music Ministry. She comes to us from Santa Fe, New Mexico where she was Director of Choral Ministries at United Church of Christ.


Rehearsal – 6:15pm Wednesdays after Soul Cafe
The Chancel Choir is a great group of around 35 dedicated singers, accompanied by our wonderful pianist, Russell Williams. We provide musical leadership for the 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Sanctuary services, including choral pieces, solos, duets and trio music.

The Chancel Choir presents 2 major programs each year: the Christmas Cantata and Lent/Easter programs. We usually have special instrumentation to accompany the choir for those performances.

The Chancel Choir is always looking for new members! If you would like to join the FUMC Chancel Choir, please contact Dr. Karen Marolli at



During the school year, the Children’s Choir rehearses on Wednesdays from 5-5:30 p.m. This is a small group of 1st-5th graders. Led by Karen Marrolli, our Director of Music Ministries, the Children’s choir is a fun interactive experience. This group meets in the choir room near the Sanctuary. Questions? Email Karen ( or Beth Burden (


Music Notes…from Karen

“Light looked down and beheld Darkness. ‘Thither will I go,’ said Light. Peace looked down and beheld War. ‘Thither will I go,’ said Peace. Love looked down and beheld Hatred. ‘Thither will I go,’ said Love. So came Light and shone. So came Peace and gave rest. So came Love and brought life. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” -Laurence Housman, “Light Looked Down”

     On Sunday, December 17, Trussville FUMC will present an alternative version of the Service of Lessons and Carols at the 8:30 and 11:00 services. The Christmas story, told through scripture, will have woven into it reflections in modern poetry and prose. These reflections both marvel at the promise of the birth of Christ as light arriving in the murkiness of night and nudge us toward our responsibility to live up to that promise and to reflect that light. Entitled “Light Looked Down,” the service examines the idea of light that is called to break forth in the darkness.

The Chancel Choir will be joined by Brass4HIM and a string orchestra (featuring familiar faces Marilyn Pipkin and Karen McDowell) for the singing of beloved carols and special music, and the choir, joined by the string orchestra, will also offer the major work Fantasia on Christmas Carols by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Fantasia itself is an encapsulation of light out of darkness, beginning with our inheritance of the darkness of original sin and quickly transitioning into the celebration of redemption through Christ. It features a number of folk carols that would be very familiar in the Anglican Church and Vaughan Williams’ home country of England, but also tends to grace American listeners with something new and beautiful. As such, Fantasia on Christmas Carols is an enduring staple of amateur choral society repertoire. Jubilant Ringers will also bless us with their music, and Joey Butler joins us as a “narrator” and reader of the reflective responses to the Christmas story.

Throughout Advent, the days grow shorter and the world sinks deeper and deeper into darkness. The same may be said of the world we see around us, not just in the month of December, but all year long. What will each of us do to ensure that we are the reflectors of light into shadowed places? How will each of us resemble the hope of the birth of Christ in the darkness? This Advent, let us take heart in the notion that the light of Christ can break forth in the blackest night, when we least expect it, and let us strive to in some way be vehicles for that light.

“It is true, Lord, it is midnight upon the earth, moonless night and starved of stars. But can we forget that You, the son of God, chose to be born precisely at midnight?” -Dom Helder Camara, from “In the Middle of the Night”


Music Notes from Karen:

Last year, I published an article in The Choral Journal, the national print publication of the American Choral Director’s Association. This month, I wanted to take a moment to share an adapted excerpt of that article with you. I believe it is a window into my philosophy of Music Ministry and into the preparation and deeper work all involved with musical worship must do to create the services in which we partake each Sunday.

“There is a role beyond musical preparation that church choir directors are called to fulfill: that of spiritual leader. Preparing singers to minister through the choir anthem involves amplifying the sermon and deepening the worship experience for both singers and congregation. Along with musical concepts and right notes at the right time, it is the director’s task to ensure that the choir has a deeper understanding of the text and its connection to the service to help them feel like a vital part of the church’s ministry.

“Myriad musical and spiritual benefits come from taking time during each rehearsal to process texts and theological themes with the singers. First, directors of church choirs should fulfill the role of music minister, which means being part of the church fabric responsible for the spiritual formation of the congregation. The congregation members with whom we have the most direct contact are sitting in front of us each week, genuinely loving to sing and hungry for whatever knowledge we bring to each rehearsal. When singers experience that ‘lightbulb moment’ of a deeper connection to the text of a piece of music, they become more motivated and energized; they feel they are an important part of the service, and they understand how their role as musicians fits into the overall service. They become ministers themselves, and that proves powerful. In addition, a choir that understands the meaning of a text and how that text fits with the music just sings differently. Tone becomes inherent. Dynamics have meaning and color beyond simply loud and soft. The music is allowed to communicate in a spiritual way, beyond text, and the congregation hears not just the syllables and sounds of the words but also the emotion and spiritual intent behind them. That is when music in worship becomes transporting to the listeners, connecting them to the creative God, which deepens the worship experience.

“These connections can be made by taking time during rehearsal to connect the singers to the anthem text and to discuss how the music of the anthem supports that text. Are the words prayerful? The music may support that by being very soft or smooth. The singers might recall what it feels like to be prayerful or to personally connect with the Creator and infuse that into their singing. Is the song about crying out in our time of need? How does the music reflect that? Is it loud and cathartic? Is it soft and pleading? Does it choose the end with a sense of hope? In this case the singers might be asked to think about a time where they asked God for help. How did it feel? Does this music feel like that?

“It would be easy to think that there is no time in the choral rehearsal to dive into the text of an anthem and how it connects to the sermon, or to assume that choir members don’t need to process theological concepts because they automatically make those connections. However, to make worship truly effective for both choir and congregation and to get the most musically from your choir, try setting aside a few moments each week to have these discussions. Connecting the choir to the text and guiding them toward understanding how that text fits in with the worship service will not only make their experience more meaningful, it will simultaneously address musical concerns and choral sound and will help the choir sing better in a creative way. Your choir deserves it, the music deserves it, and the One to whom you are offering your gifts on Sunday morning certainly deserves the best that all of us can give.”
-reprinted and adapted from “Effective Worship in the Choral Rehearsal” by Karen Marrolli, Choral Journal Vol. 57 No. 5, December 2016

Karen Marrolli, DMA
Director of Music Ministries