The Christ Church Choir
The Christ Church Choir is a collegial mixture of volunteer and professional singers, parishioners and community folk. We sing services every Sunday at 11am from September through May, and we rehearse Thursday evenings from 7-9pm. We welcome new singers of all levels of experience. Our choral and congregational repertoire is, in a word, expansive. On a given Sunday, one may hear a rousing African chant calling the people to worship; a traditional hymn accompanied by organ or an American shape-note hymn sung a cappella; an anthem by Britten, Brahms, Billings, or Byrd; a Latin motet or Latin-American Sanctus; a newly-composed psalm chant or paperless prayer response; or a large-scale cantata or mass sung as liturgy; and always great organ music. We also sing monthly Evensongs or special seasonal services for All Saints, Advent (Lessons & Carols), Christmas Eve, and during Holy Week. Please contact Director of Music Parker Kitterman by email or 215-922-1695 x27 if you are interested in being part of this ministry.
The recently formed Christ Church Children's Choir offers kids aged 7 and up is a great musical education and experience singing in our historic church. No singing experience or religious affiliation is necessary. We offer rehearsals Wednesdays or Thursdays from 5:30-6:30 pm and sing once or twice per month in Sunday morning services and for special occasions. Please contact Parker Kitterman by email or 215-922-1695 x27 if you are interested in signing up your child.
The Bell Guild
The Bell Guild at Christ Church is a group of parishioner volunteers with keyboard training who peal the bells in the tower before and after worship services. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Bell Ringer, please contact Cecilia Wagner at firstname.lastname@example.org. .
Old City Sacred Harp Sing
On the second Tuesday of each month from 7:30-9:30pm, Christ Church hosts an informal, participatory singing of American shape-note hymns from The Sacred Harp in Neighborhood House. This venerable tradition dates back to colonial New England, flourished in the South and Midwest in the early 19th c., and continues to attract partipants. Books are available for loan or purchase.
Curtis Memorial Organ- Dedicated May 29, 1935
The Christ Church Curtis Memorial Organ is a great gift that was made to the glory of God and to Christ Church in memory of publisher Cyrus H. K. Curtis by his daughter, Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist. This splendid pipe organ, built by The Aeolian Organ Company of Boston, was once in the residence of Mr. Curtis in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. In 1935 it was relocated and built into the sanctuary of Christ Church under the supervision of the renowned organ builder Ernest M. Skinner. Of the installation, Mr. Skinner explained, "The entire instrument has been carefully re-regulated and each stop modified in strength and character in order that the blends and balance may be as perfect as present-day skill in the art permits. For further impressions, the organ will speak for itself."
In 1957, The Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company made some minor changes and revisions to the pedal and Great Divisions. Finally, due to the age of the mechanism, most of which was constructed in 1903, the entire organ was dismantled and all the mechanical parts, other than pipes and console, were replaced by Austin Organs, Hartford, Connecticut, under the supervision of Brantley Duddy, Inc., Cedars, Pennsylvania.
The Organist/Choirmaster John Binsfeld, who retired from Christ Church in 2009 after 45 years of distinguished service, designed the console built by Austin Organs in 1967. The console contains 7 divisions, 4 manuals, 126 drawknobs, 33 couplers, and 110 controls.Click here for the complete organ stoplist. The Curtis Memorial Organ is one of Philadelphia's largest instruments and it ministers to our community each Sunday at Worship Services, as well as, special musical events and Old City's First Friday Concerts. Some of the greatest recitalists from every part of the world have performed at Christ Church on the Curtis Memorial Organ, they include: Anthony Newman, William Whitehead, Odile Pierre, Carlo Curley, Nicholas Kynaston, Marie-Clair Alain, John Weaver, Karl Richter, Virgil Fox, Paul Jacobs, William Trafka, Tim Piper, Ken Cowan, Matthew Glandorf and John Binsfeld.
The Next Organ at Christ Church
Christ Church has had many great organs in its 300-plus-year history, including the 1766 Feyring organ and 1835 Erben organ, each that helped build the long tradition of faithful and excellent music at Christ Church. The Curtis Memorial Organ has blessed the worship at Christ Church for more than 75 years, but now approaches the end of its useful life, and good stewardship dictates that it is time to build the next organ in Christ Church.
We want to build an organ that honors and evokes each organ in our past and yet can beautifully and rightly serve the liturgy in our time as well as the liturgy as it emerges for the next century. Currently, the Vestry is exploring the feasibility and funding possibilities of building a mechanical action (or "Tracker") organ built entirely into the 1835 Erben case, properly restored.
Photo © JJ Tiziou Photography