Vestry Corner
Church of the Holy Comforter, Vienna, VA
September 12, 2022
Music Ministry, no matter how grand or humble, is an important part of every parish, as music does so much to enhance the worship of the church. At Holy Comforter we are blessed with a large and accomplished music program that contributes a great deal to life of the parish. Over the last ten years we have realized tremendous growth, and also met the extraordinary challenges created by the COVID pandemic.

All year the Music Ministry is highly active, mainly providing choral leadership for weekly Sunday services, but also offering special music at evensong and on feast days. We even feature small groups and solos during the summer. With the exception of the Minister of Music and brass players hired for feast days, all of the musicians in the program are volunteers—we have no professional singers, which is extremely rare, given the level of achievement of our Music Ministry—and singers of all experience levels are warmly welcomed. Over the last decade, the program has developed in many ways: membership has increased; not only young singers, but also adults now participate in our Royal School of Church Music offerings; and we have substantially increased the number of special music events annually.

The pandemic though, caused chaos in the Music Ministry. How can we make music if we can’t be together? In some ways, the music program was able to respond effectively to the restrictions, most notably through the hundreds of virtual choir videos and organ recordings we produced. In other ways, we struggled to surmount the challenge: some singers were unable to meet the technical demands of contributing videos, and we were not able to fulfill our cathedral residency in England. Eventually, when restrictions were eased, choir members eagerly returned to singing together in person. The Adult Choir restarted in late May of 2021—masked and socially distant—and ended up singing straight through that summer and the following program year! Though the Choristers strove to make a similar comeback, they struggled with membership after a year and a half apart: immediately before the shutdown, there were twenty-two young singers on the roster; during this past program year we had only four in regular attendance.

Despite the ongoing challenges of COVID, we have enjoyed accomplishments in the past year, including the premiere of Holy Comforter’s 125th Anniversary commissioned anthem, and a special “Choir Day” in July, when we hosted singers visiting from Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania for a special day of singing, culminating with a festive evensong accompanied by the organist of National Cathedral. This coming year, we are looking forward to reinvigorating our Royal School of Church Music training for all ages, preparing to make our pilgrimage to Chichester Cathedral at last (three years after our original date), and hopefully moving into a new choir room, which will greatly enhance our ability to execute our ministry in the parish. In the future we would like to draw on our success with Choir Day, and bring other choirs in the community to sing with us for special events at Holy Comforter. We also plan to increase communication about our ministry, and will focus on fostering growth within the program.

When the Music Ministry returns to regular schedule this fall, consider coming to a music event that you haven’t before:

  • Evensong is a brilliant, music-filled, evening service that is only forty-five minutes long, and concludes with an elegant reception.
  • The Holy Comforter Concert Series this year will feature a quintet of professional brass players from Baltimore and an organ soloist playing our magnificent and quite large organ, both for free!
  • The Way of the Cross service midday on Good Friday includes a diverse mix of vocal and instrumental soloists and small groups performing a stunning program. It has become the most anticipated music service of the year!

Holy Comforter’s Music Ministry is among the strongest in region. Come hear what we can do! If you have questions or are interested in joining, please contact David Kelley.