Exalting the Spirit…

Franciscans told us in the parish survey that our music programs are a key strength. This is due largely to the leadership of the program and the commitment and talent of our parishioners. The music program, which has been growing steadily for the past ten years, has two very experienced music directors who lead an adult choir of about 25 Franciscans. The children's choir, "The Joyful Noyz", composed of grade school children, leads the music at the 9:00 am service. We hope to revive the preschool-age through second grade choir, the Grace Notes, in the near future.

Our adult choir is well known in the Great Falls community. For the past several years it has undertaken several large choral works, including Mozart's Requiem, Bach's Magnificat, and Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man – A Mass for Peace. Our choir performs with the Amadeus Concerts Orchestra and small string ensembles. This year it performed Will Todd's Mass in Blue with the Difficult Run Jazz Band.

Over the years, members of the Joyful Noyz and adult choirs have produced several intergenerational musicals. These were large productions and participation was open to everyone in the Great Falls community. Shows have included Noyes Fludde, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, and Children of Eden.

franciscans-say Carolyn B-120

Carolyn B-178Carolyn – Great Falls

quote-left-green I grew up in a church with a wonderful adult and children's choir. It became part of my spiritual foundation that I long to re-experience each Sunday. A good choir—with beautifully written music, quality voices, and an occasional instrument—lifts my soul and brings me closer to a higher power.

The St. Francis music program, especially its choir, has matured and expanded over the 29 years that I have been coming to church. The number and quality of beautiful voices have grown and become integral to our weekly services. I also enjoy the special services that feature music, like the one celebrating All Saints Day and concerts that choir members work hard to deliver so professionally. I am in awe each Sunday when I see them work and sing together in harmony and they seem to enjoy it so. I truly value this very special gift we have here at St Francis. Voice and song are a reflection of God’s grace given to us and our community. quote-right-green

Jeannie and Larry-120

Jeannie and Larry-178Larry and Jeanne Vote – Shirlington

quote-left-green One reason we came to St. Francis was the strong support the parishioners and rector give to good liturgy and music. Since arriving, we haven’t been disappointed—quite the contrary, we’ve been inspired by the energy and enthusiasm with which our music ministry has been embraced.

It is clear the parish community values and expects a strong music program and is willing to support it. The two dozen members of the St. Francis Choir in particular love to sing and lead the community in music. They work hard to sing at increasingly higher levels of artistic expression and this inspires the congregation in their worship. The junior choir, Joyful Noyz, regularly leads the 9:00 a.m. service and is treasured by our congregation.

The music program at St. Francis is thriving—and we look forward to recruiting new singers of all ages. We hope the new rector will build upon this tradition which can contribute to the development of the parish as a whole. As music directors we stand ready to assist. quote-right-green

Pat Ward

Pat WardPat – Great Falls

quote-left-green Since the very first service in our mission church, music has been an important part of the St. Francis worship experience. The music began for us with an unpaid organist playing a donated electric organ for an all-volunteer choir. The music continued at a Diocesan Council meeting, when St. Francis gained recognition as a full-fledged parish, with a brass trio of Franciscans—an engineer, a lawyer, and a National Symphony Orchestra horn player—bringing the Council delegates to their feet. And the music continues today.

When the new church building was completed, a special campaign was undertaken to finance the construction of a pipe organ, before the campaign to purchase pews for the nave.

Our parish draws on the talents of many gifted musicians within its church family.

We have come a very long way from our humble beginning in a dog kennel to an adult choir of more than 20 singers. quote-right-green

Ray Murphy 120

Ray Murphy 178Raymond – Great Falls

quote-left-green The adult choir is one of the most closely knit groups within the parish. We sing in concert with orchestral accompaniment, in ecumenical praise during our annual Gospel event, and in the intimate setting and quiet of Evensong. In each case, members of the parish join us in worship and in the experience and mystery that comes with lifting our voices to glorify God.

But beyond the music, the choir has achieved a unity of spirit and purpose which is extraordinary. We feel good about our church. We show it through our enthusiasm in worship, in commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive body, in hospitality extended to the entire parish during and after choir performances—and even in helping our rectors to sing!

In the past few years, we have lost three choir members, tragically, to illness. Sharing these experiences, as well as other trials and triumphs, led us to forge an adult choir that is a mainstay of our vibrant parish. quote-right-green



TiffanyB-178Tiffany – Oakton

quote-left-green I’m a recovering lawyer, now entrepreneur who, until November 2012, had been on an unsuccessful and rather frustrating hunt for a church home.

My seven-year-old daughter is the classmate of a pair of twins who introduced her to St. Francis after one of their many sleepovers. I was genuinely surprised and excited when Mackenzie returned home from her first visit to St. Francis. And then, after she sang with the Grace Notes, she insisted with genuine fervor that we attend St. Francis permanently.

I didn’t know what to expect but knew it would be our new church home because my seven-year-old had said so! She was immediately comfortable with St. Francis and so was I.

I’ve visited quite a few churches over the years in my search for a church home. Not until I attended St. Francis did I feel an immediate connection to the church community. The spiritual foundation we’ve found here has been very fulfilling. As an aside, I look forward to hearing my daughter sing with the Joyful Noyz on Sundays after she’s memorized the words with what seems to be very little effort. quote-right-green



SarahSarah – Reston

quote-left-green I joined St. Francis with my husband in 2009 not only because of its convenient location near our home in Reston, but because we immediately recognized the church choir as being the type of community we'd like to be a part of. We have experienced spiritual support, laughter, and fellowship with choir members and its directors through the years and the musical selections are hauntingly beautiful. They are always reminding us of the divine and incomprehensible glory of God. Our musical theater productions and concerts also are an excellent outreach program to the local community. I hope that these types of musical opportunities will continue at St. Francis for many years to come. quote-right-green

Virginia Lee

Virginia Lee-178Virginia – Great Falls

quote-left-green I’ve been going to St. Francis ever since I can remember.  Because I spent so much time there, it’s always felt like my second home. When I was seven or so my mother signed me up for Children’s Choir and it was there that I learned to read music and discovered how much I love to sing. I stayed in choir for as long as I was allowed and after I aged out, I came back as assistant director.

The church gave me so many opportunities to make music—even outside of Sunday choir. Some of my fondest memories include singing at the Shrine Mont talent shows and the family music nights at St. Francis. The church gave me a place to learn, to sing, and most importantly, to teach other young musicians.

Without the support and encouragement I received from St. Francis, I would have never had the courage to pursue a career in music education. Even while I was in music school, struggling with grades, competitions, and self-doubt, my church family always seemed to be cheering me on from afar.

I’m a music teacher in North Carolina now, but St. Francis will forever be my home church. One day I hope to move back to the area, and maybe someday I’ll sign my children up for choir as well. quote-right-green