Virtual Choir – Christmas 2020

Virtual Choir

Music brings us all together. Though we are not meeting in person for choir rehearsals, we can still bring our voices together through the Virtual Choir!

Our next virtual choir project is a special piece – O Magnum Mysterium (O Great Mystery) – is a text originally set to a Gregorian chant melody for the matins (early morning service) on Christmas Day. The “Great Mystery”, of course, is the mystery of the incarnation – that God would come to earth and dwell in human flesh first as a baby. As you learn this, and as you sing, our goal is to evoke awe and wonder at this marvelous truth – God came to us. We don’t need to go to him. Jesus, fully God, and fully man, is with us.

Morten Lauridsen (a contemporary composer out in California) set this to new music. I learned this piece in high school choir and have always loved it for its simple yet awe inspiring melody and harmony.

Drew Halberstadt, from westgate, provided this text and pronunciation sheet to aid your learning.

December 2020

O Magnum Mysterium (O Great Mystery)

With TCC, Trinity Congregational Bolton, and Westgate Churches

O Magnum Mysterium Sheet Music Text and Pronunciation Guide Upload Recording Here

Video Rehearsal Track

Audio Rehearsal Tracks

Soprano 1

Soprano 2

Alto 1

Alto 2

Tenor 1

Tenor 2

Bass 1

Bass 2

All Tracks Together


  • Use wired headphones, not bluetooth headphones, as these create latency issues.
  • Good lighting is super helpful to get a good quality video.
  • This page from another virtual choir has some great tips for recording on different devices, some uploading FAQ, and how to get the best possible quality.

Musical Notes:

As you go through your music listening to the rehearsal tracks, jot a few notes into your music for tempo changes, fermatas, etc.

  • M4 – slow down, hold for 3. Pause ( // )for 2.
  • M13 – slight slow for the comma (breath)
  • M16 – slow down, hold for 2, go straight on at original tempo.
  • M18 – hold fermata for 4 beats, breath for 2 at the new tempo (faster)
  • M22 – slow down, but go right on after the breath
  • M28 – slow down and crescendo!
  • M34 – slow down, hold for 2, go straight on
  • M37 – Alto Tenor Bass hold for a long 6 beats (tempo slows as you hold). Sopranos lead into the next section: you slow down at first and then move at the ‘tempo primo’ marking.
  • M40 – note word change to “fa-a-ve-runt”
  • M41 – same idea as M37. Slows a bit and then moves forward at M42.
  • M45 – big slow down! Big crescendo
  • M61 – slow down, hold for 2
  • M62 – slow down more, small tempo changes here just follow and watch
  • M69 – big slow down here with the tenors leading
  • M71 – hold fermata for 3 beats
  • M72 – hold final note for 6 beats (release on 7)


This time around, I invite you to record your part in my office at the church.

Recording times are Sundays 12:30-2pm, Tuesdays 2-5pm, and Thursdays 5-8pm.

Signup for a Recording Time

If you can come to the church then ignore all the rest of this!

Recording Instructions for Home:

If you’d prefer to record at home that is fine.

For a unified look for the video, I invite you to:

  • Find a clean wall with minimal distractions (an off-white or lighter color wall is best)
  • Wear all black.
  • Hold a single lit candle as you sing. If you need to, you may borrow one from the church.

This will help make the final video look very special!

You’ll need: A computer (laptop works best), A phone that records video, the music (linked above), a quiet environment, headphones. Extra credit if you have a special microphone that plugs into your phone as this will make the sound better.

  1. Practice and learn your track well before recording! Use the practice tracks below to help learn the music. Practice also to the video conducting tracks.
  2. Find a place to set your recording device (phone or computer). Point the camera where your face is clearly visible and fills the screen. If using a phone, make sure it is in Horizontal/Landscape orientation (not vertical/portrait orientation). Also make sure you have good lighting.
  3. When you are ready, setup a computer to play the conducting video (you can use the same device to do this if that is easier for you.)
  4. Press play on the conducting video, and record on your recorder. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same time, but if it’s close that is helpful.
    (In past videos we had asked you to clap or plug in headphones after starting…don’t worry about that this time.)
  5. Sing away! Retakes are fine, but don’t spend too long on this! Pick your best one take and be done!
  6. (optional) If you are able, go ahead and record multiple parts if you can sing multiple parts! There are 2 parts for each voice type, though mostly they sing in unison.

Uploading Instructions if you record at home:

  1. Label the files with {YourName_Part} (eg.: AdamKurihara_Bass1.mp4). (Note: this step is tricky for some. You have to go into your device’s folders and rename the file before uploading – if this part is tricky, ask for help)
  2. From the device that your file is on, navigate to the link above.
  3. Click Upload (it might be hidden behind the [•••] menu)
  4. Click Files.
  5. Navigate to your file and click open.
  6. Wait! Depending on your internet speed, this may take a few minutes. You should get confirmation when it’s done and it should appear in the list of files.

Please submit your recording(s) by Sunday December 13th.