Bachelor of Music: Sacred Music

Program Overview

Students who choose to major in sacred music at Westminster have access to education of the highest quality and broadest scope.  The major brings together students from all faiths and interests and seeks to explore the excellence of various traditions of sacred music. Faculty members have wide experience and expertise in such traditions as Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed, Roman Catholic, the Synagogue and Temple tradition, and others.

Underlying all the offerings of the department is the understanding that sacred music is neither an optional extra nor merely a spiritual entertainment within the service of the church. It is rather an essential part of the liturgy and worship and therefore must have integrity and quality appropriate for its twin functions of carrying the word of God to us, and our words of praise to God.

Undergirding the sacred music program are the offerings of the other Westminster academic and performance departments, the specialized collections containing sacred music materials in Talbott Library, and the vast network of affiliate churches in the greater New York-Philadelphia metropolitan area in which Westminster students gain personal experience in a wide range of sacred music practice.

Curriculum Overview

The curriculum aims, on the one hand, to explore how familiar tradition can be blended with unfamiliar contemporary creativity in choral, congregational, and instrumental music for worship; and, on the other hand, to provide a balanced study of theoretical matters and practical concerns. Technique, repertoire, and performance practice are therefore considered with theology, biblical and post-biblical religious history, and the development and practice of liturgy and worship.

Sacred Music Lab provides an opportunity for students to experience a wide variety of denominational traditions and worship styles. In this context students are immersed in extensive congregational, choral, vocal, organ and instrumental works, which comprise the basic corpus of sacred repertoire. New trends in theology, hymnody and composition are also explored through practical and creative liturgies.

Degree Offered

  • B.M. in Sacred Music

Contact

Amanda Quist, D.M.A.
Associate Professor and Chairperson
Williamson Hall 43
609-921-7100, ext. 8244
aquist@rider.edu
 

Program Website: www.rider.edu/wcc/undergraduate-programs/sacred-music

Associated Department: Department of Conducting, Organ and Sacred Music

Related Programs

Additional Opportunities

A reciprocal arrangement with Princeton Theological Seminary allows Westminster graduate students to take certain courses offered by the Seminary. Enrollment in such courses is arranged after consultation with Sacred Music faculty. Speer Library at the Seminary, housing one of the nation’s most important theological collections, is another invaluable resource for Westminster students.

Faculty

Steve Pilkington • Associate Professor, Sacred Music, and Director of Chapel, 1992. B.A., St. Olaf College; M.M., University of Illinois; Ph.D., Drew University.
Amanda Quist • Associate Professor and Chair, Conducting, 2010.  B.M., Western Michigan University; M.M., Western Michigan University; D.M.A., University of North Texas.
Kathleen Ebling Shaw • Adjunct Instructor, Sacred Music, 1991. B.M., Westminster Choir College.
Tom T. Shelton, Jr. • Assistant Professor II, Sacred Music, 2012.  B.M., M.M., University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
 

Sacred Music Program Requirements

Learn more about General Undergraduate Requirements.

Choirs and Conducting
CR 109Chapel Choir (2 terms)2
CR 209Schola Cantorum (2 terms)2
CR 509Symphonic Choir (4 terms)4
CR 215Fundamentals of Conducting3
CR 315Techniques of Conducting3
Applied Music and Diction
Select one primary from Organ, Piano or Voice
OR 101AOrgan Primary (2 terms)4
or PI 101A Piano Primary
or VC 101A Voice Primary
OR 201AOrgan Primary (2 terms)4
or PI 201A Piano Primary
or VC 201A Voice Primary
OR 301AOrgan Primary (2 terms)4
or PI 301A Piano Primary
or VC 301A Voice Primary
OR 401AOrgan Primary (2 terms)4
or PI 401A Piano Primary
or VC 401A Voice Primary
Voice or Piano secondary (4 terms)4
VC 115English & Italian Diction2
VC 116French & German Diction 12
Theory and Music History
TH 141
TH 142
TH 241
Musicianship I
and Musicianship II
and Musicianship III
12
TH 342Contemporary Trends3
Theory level I elective3
Theory level II elective3
MH 247
MH 248
Music Historiography I
and Music Historiography II (2 courses)
6
MH 345Music Since 19003
Music History elective3
Professional Studies
SM 121Survey of Sacred Music Lit3
SM 122Worship and Theology3
SM 142Intro to Music Ministry2
SM 158Intro Handbell Leadership1
SM 360History of American CM3
SM 510Choral Music for Adult Choirs2
SM 511Sacred Music Lab (8 terms) 20
SM 512Choral Music for Childrn/Youth2
Concentration8
Select one of the following concentrations:
Organ (In order to be considered for this concentration, you must audition and be accepted by the Organ area.)
Accompanying at the Organ (2 credits)
Piano Primary (2 terms, 1 credit each)
Sacred Sounds (2 credits)
Contemporary Worship
SM Internship (2 terms, 1 credit each)
Bells (In order to be considered for this concentration, you must audition and be selected for Concert Handbell Choir I.)
Sacred Sounds (2 credits)
Contemporary Worship
SM Internship (2 terms, 1 credit each)
Concert Handbell Choir I (4 terms, 1 credit each)
Urban Church (In order to be considered for this concentration, you must audition and be selected for Jubilee Singers.)
Contemporary Worship (2 credits)
SM Internship (2 terms, 1 credit each)
Jubilee Singers (4 terms, 1 credit each)
Children's & Youth Music
Sacred Sounds ( 2 credits)
Contemporary Worship
SM Internship (3 terms, 1 credit each)
Choir Train for Young Singers (3 credits)
Choral Music Grades 5-12
Adult Conducting
Sacred Sounds (2 credits)
Contemporary Worship
SM Internship (3 terms, 1 credit each)
Vocal Techniques for Choirs (3 credits)
Advanced Conducting
Cantor/Early Music (In order to be considered for this concentration, you must audition and be selected for Kantorei).
Sacred Sounds (2 credits)
SM Internship (2 terms, 1 credit each)
Westminster Kantorei (4 terms, 1 credit each)
Arts and Sciences
LL 131English Composition3
Foreign Language I/II (2 courses) 36
Biblical Studies elective3
Social/Behavioral/Natural Science elective3
History elective3
Arts & Sciences electives (2 courses)6
Free Electives
Free Electives6
Total Credits125

 Notes

1

Non-voice primary students may substitute two credits of free electives for VC 116.

2

Attendance is required of all undergraduate Sacred Music majors at weekly Lab meetings during every semester of enrollment, up to a total of 8 semesters for SM 511 Sacred Music Lab.

3

Completion of French, German, Italian, Latin, or Spanish II is required. If students are exempted from one or more semesters of foreign language study, they must replace the missing credits with other Arts & Sciences electives.

Academic Plan of Study

The following educational plan is provided as a sample only.  Rider students who do not declare a major during their freshman year; who change their major; or those who transfer to Rider may follow a different plan to ensure a timely graduation.  Each student, with guidance from his or her academic advisor, will develop a personalized educational plan.

Plan of Study Grid
Year 1
Fall SemesterCredits
CR 109 Chapel Choir 1
OR 101A
Organ Primary
or Piano Primary
or Voice Primary
2
PI 103
Piano Secondary I
or Voice Secondary
1
TH 141 Musicianship I 4
SM 142 Intro to Music Ministry 2
SM 511 Sacred Music Lab 0
LL 131 English Composition 3
Foreign Language I 3
 Semester Credit Hours16
Spring Semester
CR 109 Chapel Choir 1
OR 101A
Organ Primary
or Piano Primary
or Voice Primary
2
PI 104
Piano Secondary II
or Voice Secondary
1
VC 115 English & Italian Diction 2
SM 121 Survey of Sacred Music Lit 3
TH 142 Musicianship II 4
SM 511 Sacred Music Lab 0
Foreign Language II 3
 Semester Credit Hours16
Year 2
Fall Semester
SM 122 Worship and Theology 3
CR 209 Schola Cantorum 1
PI 203
Piano Secondary III
or Voice Secondary
1
OR 201A
Organ Primary
or Piano Primary
or Voice Primary
2
TH 241 Musicianship III 4
MH 247 Music Historiography I 3
SM 511 Sacred Music Lab 0
Arts & Sciences Elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours17
Spring Semester
CR 209 Schola Cantorum 1
PI 204
Piano Secondary for Mus Ed Sacred Music
or Voice Secondary
1
OR 201A
Organ Primary
or Piano Primary
or Voice Primary
2
SM 158 Intro Handbell Leadership 1
CR 215 Fundamentals of Conducting 3
TH 342 Contemporary Trends 3
MH 248 Music Historiography II 3
SM 511 Sacred Music Lab 0
History elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours17
Year 3
Fall Semester
CR 215 Fundamentals of Conducting 3
CR 509 Symphonic Choir 1
MH 345 Music Since 1900 3
SM 250 Contemporary Worship 2
SM 510 Choral Music for Adult Choirs 1
SM 511 Sacred Music Lab 0
Piano elective 1
OR 301A
Organ Primary
or Piano Primary
or Voice Primary
2
Theory Level I elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours16
Spring Semester
CR 509 Symphonic Choir 1
OR 301A
Organ Primary
or Piano Primary
or Voice Primary
2
SM 511 Sacred Music Lab 0
SM 512 Choral Music for Childrn/Youth 2
Theory Level II elective 3
Social/Behavioral/Nature Science elective 3
Biblical Studies elective 3
Piano elective 1
 Semester Credit Hours15
Year 4
Fall Semester
CR 509 Symphonic Choir 1
OR 401A
Organ Primary
or Piano Primary
or Voice Primary
2
SM 360 History of American CM 3
SM 491 SM Internship 1
SM 511 Sacred Music Lab 0
Free elective 3
Arts & Sciences elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours13
Spring Semester
CR 509 Symphonic Choir 1
OR 401A
Organ Primary
or Piano Primary
or Voice Primary
2
SM 491 SM Internship 1
SM 511 Sacred Music Lab 0
Free elective 6
Music History elective 3
Recital  
 Semester Credit Hours13
 Total Credits123

Courses and Descriptions

SM 121 Survey of Sacred Music Lit 3 Credits

Broad survey of Christian music. Through standard repertoire, major historical genres of sacred music are explored from biblical roots in the Old and New Testament to the postmodern expressions of our time.

SM 122 Worship and Theology 3 Credits

A study of the content, theology, and history of the Old and New Testament narratives that the church recounts and celebrates in its liturgical year.

SM 142 Intro to Music Ministry 2 Credits

An introduction to the vocational needs, professional relationships, administration styles and teaching roles of the church musician. In addition to an overview of professional standards, emphasis will also be placed on music engraving skills, budgeting, recruitment, endowments and fundraising.

SM 158 Intro Handbell Leadership 1 Credits

A hands-on course providing a strong foundation for the beginning director/ringer. It will include information about ringing instruments, maintenance, ringing and damping techniques, articulations, part assignments, a survey of handbell literature, and rehearsal planning and directing.

SM 250 Contemporary Worship 2 Credits

This course is an exploration of the various forms of worship being practiced in urban churches across America. Practical and skill-based, it is designed to allow the student to explore praise and worship music, different styles of gospel, and other forms of music used in non-traditional worship.

SM 340 Church Field Education 1 Credits

A practical program in which students take responsibility for the music program of an assigned affiliate church. Under supervision, students exercise the skills and concepts learned in the classroom. Enrolled students also meet in a weekly preceptorial. Sacred Music majors must take two consecutive semesters, normally in the junior year.

Prerequisite(s): SM 121, SM 122.

SM 354 Hymnody & Psalmody 3 Credits

A study of the origins and development of Christian song. The first part of the course deals with the nature of the Psalms in their Biblical setting and their use in the worship of different traditions. The second part of the course deals with the history of congregational hymnody - texts, tunes, styles and functions - from the 16th century to the present. The course aims to develop an awareness of the textual and musical treasures available for both congregational and choral use.

SM 360 History of American CM 3 Credits

A broad survey of American church music beginning with colonial psalm-singing and continuing through four centuries of musical development leading up to and including the vast panorama musical practices found in post-modern Christianity. A special emphasis will be placed on the development and influence of African-American church music on contemporary musical practices. Prerequsite(s): SM 121.

SM 410 African Amer Choral Lit 3 Credits

This course is designed to give students a better understanding of the choral literature, historical context and text analysis of African American composers.

SM 454 German Church Music 3 Credits

A study of church choral literature by German composers from the 16th century to the present focusing on the pre-Bach and post-Bach cantata. Class performances of selected works. Complements SM 455. Offered in rotation with other Sacred Music electives.

SM 455 Bach Cantatas 3 Credits

A study of the history, performance practices, and liturgical setting of the cantatas of J.S. Bach. Class performances of selected cantatas. Complements SM 454. Offered in rotation with other Sacred Music electives.

SM 490 Independent Research and Study 1-4 Credits

Students may pursue a special topic for which they have prepared through prior course work. Only one project may be scheduled in a semester. The project may involve 1-4 credit hours. Students may count up to a maximum of 18 independent study hours toward graduation. Approval of the faculty sponsor, department chair, and dean required prior to the first day of the semester in which the project is to be completed. Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required.

Prerequisite(s): junior or senior standing.

SM 491 SM Internship 1 Credits

A practical program in which students take responsibility for the music program of a local church or work as an intern in an assigned affiliate church. Under faculty supervision, students exercise the skills and concepts learned in the classroom. Enrolled students also meet in a weekly preceptorial. Sacred music majors must take two consecutive semesters, normally in the junior year.

Prerequisite(s): CR 215.

SM 509 Jubilee Singers 1 Credits

This auditioned ensemble is devoted to the performance of sacred music from the African-American tradition.

SM 510 Conducting Adult Church Choirs: Pedagogy and Management 2 Credits

A practical, skill-based course devoted to the building and maintenance of church music programs serving adults.

SM 511 Sacred Music Lab 0 Credits

Series of classes that addresses a variety of experiences in Sacred Music while rotating principal themes and ideas. Student preparation of monthly worship settings will put studied concepts into practice.

SM 512 Conducting Children and Youth Church Choirs: Pedagogy and Management 2 Credits

A practical, skill-based course devoted to the building and maintenance of church music programs serving children and youth.

SM 517 Concert Handbell Choir II 1 Credits

Open to students who have had previous handbell experience. Intermediate to advanced repertoire, with opportunities for concert performance.

SM 519 Concert Handbell Choir I 1 Credits

A choir selected by audition from the most experienced and capable bell ringers among the student body at large. This ensemble utilizes advanced repertoire and techniques, aiming primarily at presenting concerts both on and off campus, including a two-week annual tour.

SM 525 Conductors' Repertoire Ensemble 1 Credits

An auditioned chamber ensemble, offered every semester, which provides conducting podium time and coaching to all interested members. It additionally serves the conducting needs of graduate Sacred Music majors.

Prerequisite(s): CR 215 or permission of instructor.

SM 531 Colloquium in Sacred Music 2 Credits

A lecture series/colloquium intended to address a wide variety of concerns in the field of Sacred Music while rotating principal themes and ideas.

SM 541 Conducting Church Choirs:Ped & Mgt 3 Credits

A practical course devoted to the building and maintenance of church music programs serving persons of all ages.

SM 610 Foundations of Music Ministry 2 Credits

This graduate level course surveys the vocational needs, professional relationships, administrative styles, and teaching roles of the practicing church musician. In addition to an overview of professional standards, emphasis will also be placed on music engraving skills (music notation software), budgeting, recruitment, endowments and fundraising.

SM 621 Oratorio Solo Literature 3 Credits

A performance course surveying solo and ensemble portions of oratorios, masses, passions and cantatas from the early Baroque period to the present, with emphasis on approproiate performance techniques for stylistic integrity. Offered in rotation with other Sacred Music electives. 3 Credit hours.

SM 624 Choral Music for Children 1 Credits

This course is designed to acquaint the church choral director with repertoire suitable for use with children’s and youth choirs. Representative repertoire from all periods of music will be discussed and analyzed. Focus will be on repertoire that can be used during special services throughout the liturgical church year.

SM 625 Choral Music for Adults 1 Credits

This course is designed to acquaint the church choral director with repertoire suitable for use with adult choirs and adult ensembles. Representative repertoire from all periods of music will be discussed and analyzed. Focus will be on repertoire that can be used during special services throughout the liturgical church year.

SM 630 Conducting Coaching 1-2 Credits

Structured preparation and faculty coaching of the culminating choral recital in the graduate Sacred Music curriculum.

SM 631 Worship Planning/21st Cent. 3 Credits

Designed to facilitate the planning of worship, this practical course will be an immersion in the musical and theological materials available to those who create worship.

SM 632 Collaborative Prep for Worship 1 Credits

Through seminars, readings and common participation in chapel services, Westminster Choir College and Princeton Theological Seminary students will explore models for pastors and church musicians to prepare collaboratively for worship.

SM 635 ChoirTrainingForChildren/Youth 3 Credits

A practical course designed to teach students how to organize and direct a comprehensive music program from preschool through high school in the church setting. The course focuses on teaching excellent vocal techniques for each level as well as appropriate music skill development. Other areas of focus include: musical readiness skills; working with preschool singers; understanding the child’s voice; the changing voice; and appropriate repertoire for all ages.

SM 640 Liturgies 3 Credits

A study of the origins of liturgy, its development in the main Christian traditions, and its relation to ecclesiastical history, with particular attention given to the differing styles and traditions of liturgical music. Contemporary liturgies are viewed against this historical background.

SM 641 Hymnology 3 Credits

A study of the origins and development of Christian hymnody, with reference to the theological emphases of various periods from the beginnings to the present, aiming to arouse interest in the textual and musical content of hymns and in their effective use in worship.

SM 654 German Church Music 3 Credits

A study of church choral literature by German composers from the 16th century to the present focusing on the pre-Bach and post-Bach cantata. Class performances of selected works. Complements SM 655. Offered in rotation with other Sacred Music electives.

SM 655 Bach Cantatas 3 Credits

A study of the history, performance practices, and liturgical setting of the cantatas of J.S. Bach. Class performances of selected cantatas.

SM 690 Independent Study and Research 1-3 Credits

Students may pursue a special topic for which they have prepared through prior course work. Only one project may be scheduled in a semester. The project may involve 1-3 credit hours. Approval of the faculty sponsor, department chair, and dean required prior to the first day of the semester in which the project is to be completed. Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 required.

Prerequisite(s): graduate standing.

SM 710 Panorama of Sacred Music 3 Credits

This graduate-level course is a one-semester survey of those masterworks and significant musical movements that have shaped the evolution of Western Sacred Music. Beginning with the Old Testament, this course will move through all eras, highlighting important composers and liturgical trends, placing them in their appropriate cultural and theological contexts.

SM 712 Hist of Sacred Music I 3 Credits

Study and research into the history of Western Christian music and its most important genres beginning with the Old Testament and continuing until the death of J.S. Bach in 1750.

SM 713 Hist of Sacred Music II 3 Credits

Continuation of SM 712, beginning with the Classical Viennese Mass and continuing until today. Emphasis on the development of the American church and its worship music.

SM 722 Theology, Liturgy & Worship 3 Credits

A detailed study of the Bible. Principal thematic and narrative elements are correlated to the development of the church’s historic liturgies and the theological principles behind them.