MUSIC AT BBPC
We have a rich musical heritage dating back over a hundred years. While this congregation has been in existence c. 1688, not much specific information exists about its music program, except for incidents over hymn singing/hymnals and use of instruments in worship. There was, however, a pipe organ in its third building built c. 1829 and pictures of a choir from that period. From this one could assume there was substantial music being used in its worship. We do know that the present building erected in 1896 contained a pipe organ. Worship bulletins from that period list the professional quartet, as well as the organist. This was a common practice in most city and larger suburban churches at that time. There soon developed a group of volunteers to supplement the quartet and the choir grew. Adjustments to the sanctuary had to be made to make room for them. The original choir loft was only big enough for the quartet. The organ was rebuilt in the 1930’s by the M. P. Moller company and later replaced by an organ from the Austin Organ Company, Hartford CT in 1967. During the 1950’s a fully graded choir program developed and has been maintained through the years. As was the tradition during the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, many church choirs were small community choruses and performed major oratorios in addition to music for the worship service. BBPC has performed many of these oratorios, mass settings and concert music. Music is still alive today. All music exists to enhance our worship of God, by augmenting the lessons of scripture/sermon with inspiring choral and instrumental music and leading the congregation in exciting hymn singing. We sing music from all genre – classical (all periods), spiritual, folk, world music and some “contemporary”. While the organ still is the backbone for congregational singing and music accompaniment, it is not unusual to have piano, percussion and other instrumental accompaniment in our worship.
Many of our former Directors of Music have become of note in their field. Ifor Jones who was here in the 1930’s became the third Director of the Bach Bethlehem Choir and has edited many Bach cantatas and anthems. Morgan Simmons was here in the 1950’s and went to and retired from 4th Presbyterian in Chicago. Other noted names are Lee Malone, Charles Lowe, Eugene Brinkmeyer, Charles Heaton and Clifford Case, former U. S. Senator.