The First Parish in Cambridge music program strives to enrich the spirituality and deepen the Unitarian-Universalist values of musicians, congregants, and the wider community.
Our goal is to perform music that connects with listeners’ hearts and minds in order to foster and cultivate the spirituality of all. Our vision is for everyone to find life-changing inspiration by singing, playing, or simply experiencing our music. We offer opportunities for all to participate in the musical life of the church.
The Significance of Music
Every service at First Parish includes a diverse selection of music. Recognizing that cultural diversity honors peoples’ experiences and wisdom, we make music to celebrate many cultural traditions. Believing that music is a healing force on the planet, we use our voices and instruments for the care and stewardship of the earth. We make music so our children may grow to be expressive and poetic. We bring to life the sounds of ancient musicians, and we tell fresh stories with the music of today.
Singing together as a congregation is a joyful experience. Every Sunday service includes several opportunities to join together in song. While most songs are taken from our several hymnals, we are blessed with a minister with a background as a folk singer. In the tradition of “lining out”, Fred often leads us in learning and singing new or familiar songs. What a thrill to learn a new song and then to hear the sounds of improvisational harmony filling the room as we sing the melody!
Our goal is that everyone in the congregation should feel comfortable participating in the musical experience of the service. Outside of service, we host an annual hymn sing, which is a great opportunity to learn new hymns, to practice old ones, and to sing together in a fun, informal setting.
The First Parish Choir is a vibrant and growing chorus that provides choral music for all services at First Parish, except during the summer. Anyone with a love of choral singing is invited to participate; experience is recommended, but enthusiasm is required!
We rehearse every Sunday morning at 9:00 AM (except during the summer). Regular attendance on Sunday mornings is encouraged, both for musical continuity and a sense of community. To assist the Music Director in planning, we ask that choir members let him know in advance if they plan to be absent.
To join our choir, contact our Music Director, Jonathan Barnhart. You may email him at MusicDir [at] firstparishcambridge [dot] org or introduce yourself on Sunday morning.
Instrumental performance is an essential part of our Sunday morning experience. An instrumental prelude and postlude provide a calming way to begin and end the service. Our lighting of Candles of Joy and Sorrow is set to an improvised musical accompaniment on piano, organ, or Native American flute. Talented members of the congregation share their gifts through duets or solos. And our singing is accompanied by Fred’s guitar playing and/or Jonathan’s keyboards. If you have a musical gift to share, please contact our Instrumental Coordinator, Irene Merwin at InstrumentalMusic [at] firstparishcambridge [dot] org.
Musical Community Outreach and Service
Music is a wonderful way to reach out and connect with people. Every December, dozens of First Parish members and friends go caroling in area nursing homes and elderly residences in what has become a favorite tradition.
Inspired by the reactions of the residents, a number of us now lead regular monthly sing-alongs at Sancta Maria Nursing Facility in Cambridge. Please join us at our next sing-along! No rehearsal is required – the songs are fun and familiar, and we’ve got plenty of large-print song sheets for everyone. To learn more, contact sing-alongs-owner [at] yahoogroups [dot] com.
Our Music Community
The choir and other musicians in the church form a community of people that care for each other, nurturing our spiritual and musical growth and supporting each other through the joys and sorrows of life. These vibrant connections help us as we strive to enrich the spiritual experiences of the congregation and the wider community through music.
Our Invitation to You
Please come join us in musical celebration or contemplation at a service. Share your gifts as a singer, an instrumentalist, or an appreciative listener. We welcome you in joy and love.
Contact the Music Committee co-chairs, Mara Vorhees and Steve Hanna, with ideas or questions at MusicChair [at] firstparishcambridge [dot] org.