Worship Music


Enjoy listening to music by First Church’s Music Director & Organist, Marcia Hempel; Bell Choir Director, Lynn Carver; choirs; and music composed and/or performed by our many musically gifted members!

There is something for everyone here- no matter your mood, no matter your musical tastes, no matter the season. Visit this page again and again and be spiritually nourished and leave with a song in your heart.

The Prayer

Sung by Emily Kosoff, piano by Marcia Hempel

This popular song by David Foster is well known as a duet, that is partly in Spanish, by Celine Dion and Andre Bocelli.

Sunday Meeting Time

Sunday Meeting Time was written by Norman Spencer. It was originally used in a Warner Brothers cartoon of that name. The song is about happy memories and nostalgic feelings about church. Sung by the First Church Choir, directed by Marcia Hempel.

If We Only Have Love

Written by Jacques Brel
Sung by Marcia Hempel

This piece was composed by French singer-songwriter, Jacques Brel. It was introduced in his 1968 off-Broadway NY production of “Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” which ran for four years.

Total Praise

Written by Richard Smallwood
Sung by Marcia Hempel

This gospel piece was composed by Richard Smallwood. He is a composer of gospel songs. He is currently the Director of Visions, earlier of the Smallwood Singers. He formed his first vocal ensemble at the age of 11, then completed a Master of Divinity degree in 2013 to prepare for ministry.

I Will Rise

written by Chris Tomlin
arranged and played by Marcia Hempel

This is a modern “praise song” by Chris Tomlin. It is often played with guitars, and was sung by the First Church Choir one Easter.

Hear My Prayer

Written by Moses Hogan
Sung by Marcia Hempel

Moses Hogan, who died in 2003 at age 46, but left behind a large repertoire of masterfully arranged spirituals. This is such a one.

Away From the Roll of the Sea

Written by Alistir MacGilvray
Sung by Marcia Hempel

Canadian, Alistir MacGillivray, wrote this peaceful song about boats in the harbor, which have come home to rest. And he adds a prayer that they will return to the sea again.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Arranged by Mark Hayes
Played by Marcia Hempel

Using Hayes’ improvisatory and soulful jazz harmonies, this hymn is one of the most expressive of all. It is played on our beautiful Steinway piano.

Children’s Song Medley

Arranged by Mark Hayes
Played by Marcia Hempel

A fun and rollicking rendition by Hayes. Here are three children’s songs—Praise Him All Ye Little Children, Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam, and Jesus Loves the Little Children.

Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross

Arranged by Gospel pianist C. F. Little
Played by Marcia Hempel

Jesus I Will Ponder Now

Composed by J.S. Bach
Sung by Marcia Hempel

This is a meditation on Christ’s suffering and the message of the Passion.

Listen to Jesus I Will Ponder Now

You Raise Me Up

Composed by Rolf Lovland
Arranged and played by Marcia Hempel

Listen to You Raise Me Up

Come O Thou Traveler

Words by Charles Wesley
Sung by Marcia Hempel

This song has words by the Methodist hymn writer, Charles Wesley. It’s about Jacob wrestling with the angel. He asks the messenger, “are you love?”

Listen to Come O Thou Traveler

Suddenly There’s A Valley

Written by Chuck Meyer and Biff Jones
Sung and played by Marcia Hempel

This song was first recorded by Gogi Grant and Jo Stafford. It is in the Reader’s Digest “Family Songbook of Faith and Joy.”

Listen to Suddenly There’s A Valley

I’m Trying To Be Like Jesus

Sung and played by Marcia Hempel
This is a children’s song about being like our Redeemer.

Listen to I’m Trying To Be Like Jesus

If I Can Help Somebody

Written by Alma Androzzo
Sung by Marcia Hempel

This is a gospel song about caring for each other as Jesus taught.

Listen to If I Can Help Somebody

I Want Jesus to Walk with Me

Arranged by Mark Hayes
Played on piano by Marcia Hempel

This is one of the most expressive and emotional spirituals, beloved by so many.

Listen to I Want Jesus to Walk with Me

Across the Lands You’re the Word of God

Written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
Played by Marcia Hempel

Unity among all people, God’s presence among us, and love for fellow humans are some of the messages of Pentecost.

Listen to Across the Lands You’re the Word of God

Battle Hymn Of the Republic

Arranged by Mark Hayes
Sung by Tom Jahnke

This hymn was first published in 1860. It has lyrics by the abolitionist, Julia Ward Howe, and a melody based on a popular military song.

Listen to The Battle Hymn of the Republic

Day by Day

Day by Day, arranged by Mark Hayes
Sung by Tom Jahnke with a special part with Marcia Hempel Played by Marcia Hempel

Listen to Day by Day

None Other Lamb

Written by Craig Courtney for the Easter season, which ends on Ascension
Sung and played by Marcia Hempel

This piece captures the feeling of Ascension.

Listen to None Other Lamb

Bright and Beautiful

Arranged by Mark Hayes and sung by Tom Jahnke
This is a beautiful medley of children’s hymns and songs.

Listen to Bright and Beautiful

Safe within Your Arms

This piece, based on “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:22-31), affirms that we are all children of God.

Listen to Safe Within Your Arms

Lord of the Dance

This song tells the story of Jesus’ life.
It is arranged by Mark Hayes (who is playing piano in this recording), and sung by our own Tom Jahnke.

Listen to Lord of the Dance

The Gift of Love

This well-known song was originally the folk tune, “Waly, Waly,” and was used in Hal Hopson’s hymn, “Though I May Speak With Bravest Fire.” This arrangement is by Lloyd Larson. The words are based on I Corinthians.

Played by Marcia Hempel.

Listen to The Gift of Love

I Then Shall Live. Words by Gloria Gaither, music of Finlandia by Sibelius

This piece is based on the well-known song from Finlandia by Sibelius, with words by Gloria Gaither. The words say, “May your living kingdom come in me.” It includes a wish that all of us be brought together in love. Marcia Hempel, soloist and pianist.

Listen to I Then Shall Live

I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes based on Psalm 121 with music by Marcia Hempel

I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes is an original duet newly composed by Marcia Hempel. It speaks of God’s protection and safety. Duet sung by Marcia Hempel and Tom Jahnke.

Listen to I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes

Because He Lives by William and Gloria Gaither

This is perhaps the Gaithers’ best-known song.
Sung by Tom Jahnke, a member of the First Church Choir, and accompanied by Marcia Hempel.

Listen to Because He Lives

Give Me Jesus, an African American Spiritual

This Spiritual calls for Jesus (even after his death).
Sung by Tom Jahnke and accompanied by Marcia Hempel

Listen to Give Me Jesus

I Know That My Redeemer Lives by Craig Courtney

I Know That My Redeemer Lives was written by Craig Courtney, whose pieces always have beautiful melodies. The text is from Job 19: 25-26, and Corinthians 13:12.

Marcia Hempel, soloist and pianist

Listen to I Know That My Redeemer Lives

I’ve Just Seen Jesus by William and Gloria Gaither

I Just Saw Jesus is a well-known song by William and Gloria Gaither. Award-winning musician Bill Gaither started singing in a trio in high school. He eventually went to work in the Christian music industry, and now has his own TV shows that are much loved.

Marcia Hempel, soloist and pianist

Listen to I’ve Seen Jesus

For Easter we have 4 pieces.

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today – Hymn

Christ the Lord is Risen Today is our stand out, stand up, festive hymn for Easter Sunday. Its words were written by the famous Methodist hymnodist, Charles Wesley, in the late 18th century.

Listen to Christ the Lord Is Risen Today

Bells Ringing by Edvard Grieg

Continuing the bell theme for Easter, this programmatic piano piece by Grieg sounds like bells ringing. Happy Easter! Maybe it resembles the way the First Church bell used to ring!

Listen to Bells Ringing

The Day of Resurrection – Hymn

The hymn, Day of Resurrection, was translated by John Neal in the 19th century from 8th century words. They link Christian Easter with Jewish Passover as “the Passover of gladness…the Passover of God.”

Listen to Day of Resurrection

Ring Them Bells by Bob Dylan

This song, while not strictly an Easter song, has strong religious references. Here songwriter, Bob Dylan, advocates for everlasting justice and truth. The last line is “they’re breaking down the distance between right and wrong.”

Listen to Ring Them Bells

All Is Well – Sacred Harp/Peter Amidon

All Is Well is a choral arrangement by Peter Amidon, a Guilford, Vermont, United Church of Christ choral director. It is based on his son Sam’s recreation of the Sacred Harp piece.

Listen to All is Well

Were You There? – African American Spiritual

This well-known spiritual speaks directly to the heart. It describes Jesus’ crucifixion of being nailed to the cross like a common criminal then laid in his tomb. It repeats the word, tremble, three times; and as the word and we tremble, we are reminded of the earthquake that occurred at the very time of Jesus’ death.

Listen to Were You There?

Love Call Me Home, by Peggy Seeger

Peggy Seeger wrote the words and music to this beautiful song about friends, love, time, and death. Peggy is one of Pete Seeger’s sisters.

Listen to Love Call Me Home

Mein Jesu Der Du Mich, by Johannes Brahms

Mein Jesu Der Du Mich (My Jesus Calls To Me)

Close to the time of his death, Brahms wrote eleven chorale preludes based on Lutheran hymns. This is the longest and grandest of all, and expresses pain, faith, and also triumph.

Listen to Mein Jesu Der Du Mich

O Thou Great Friend – Welsh Hymn Melody

Written by the great abolitionist Theodore Parker in the mid-19th century in Boston, and set to a Welsh melody, O Thou Great Friend describes Jesus as our Great Friend.

Listen to O Thou Great Friend

Liebster Jesu, Wir Sind Hier by J. S. Bach.

This gentle chorale prelude is plaintive and worshipful. The second verse of this hymn has advice for Maundy Thursday: “Our knowledge and understanding are overshadowed with darkness, where the hand of [God’s] spirit does not fill us with clear light.”

Listen to Liebster Jesu, Wir Sind Hier

Ride on Ride on in Majesty

Ride on Ride on in Majesty is a well-known Palm Sunday hymn. Do sing along!

Listen to Ride On Ride On in Majesty

Notturno by Grieg

This Notturno by Grieg is moody and full of images. It connects to Lent by demonstrating the amazing progression from dark to light. Grieg wrote music that painted a picture. He lived from 1843 to 1907.

Listen to Notturno by Grieg

Glory Train by Al Gausz

This is a song that Al Gausz was encouraged to record by musicians at the Gaither Studio. it. It’s a toe tapper! Al is a parishioner at First Church and has written about thirty sacred songs.

Listen to Glory Train, by Al Gausz

Courante by Scarlatti

Scarlatti’s emotionality in this piece stands out. It expresses the complexity of Holy Week. Scarlatti lived from 1685 to 1757, around the same time as Bach.

Listen to Courante, by Scarlatti