Flowers, Candles, a Cross — and more

A beautiful altar always enhances the worship experience. Now that we see the altar through a camera lens, altar design is even more important. We asked Hyosang Park to tell us her she decides to arrange what we see on the altar. Working with the altar guild and the worship committee, she considers the sermon topic, the seasons and the church year, and the color of the floral arrangements.

“I am not sure most people recognize this extraordinary ministry,” says Judy Miller. “Hyosang creates such beautiful altar arrangements and puts so much thought, time, and detailed handmade touches into them.”

“Sometimes I quickly put together the altar table on Sunday morning,” says Hyosang. ‘But there are some Sundays that I prepare arrangements weeks ahead of time. For example, in the photo above, I looked for days in many web stores to find lamps to illustrate Pastor Ginny’s sermon on Thy Word is my lamp unto my feet, and Ginny helped me decide.”

“To create the altar for Thanksgiving Sunday in 2019 (on the right), I stopped my car many times on the side of the roads, to harvest beautiful reeds.  Dana Dreibelbis and Lori Pantaleo also brought beautiful fall plants for me to use.”


With construction tools, this altar celebrated the safe return of the ASP team and the sharing of their stories.









For World Communion Sunday 2019, shown at the top of the page, Lori Pantaleo shopped and gathered the different breads and the fabrics shown. “Lori and I got together on Saturday to decorate the table. After taking a few pictures we took it down since we wanted to have fresh bread on Sunday morning. Yes, we redecorated the table Sunday morning. “

An altar arrangement for Advent

Creating Lent/Easter arrangements took few more steps then other Sundays. “First, the Worship committee voted on using white, pink and purple colors on Easter Sunday,” Hyosang explains. “Pam Nugent talked to our florist to find suitable plants for Easter.  Meanwhile, my cockatiel laid 7 eggs in February. So, I decided to use a bird nest that Dana Dreibelbis gave back in 2019.









“Ideas started to float into my head, and I began putting things together in my mind first…… 1. bare tree branches, 2. empty bird nests,  eggs in the nest,” says Hyosang.  Cherry blossoms made out of crepe paper were glued on after Maundy Thursday service.

On Friday, following Hyosang’s color requests, Judy Miller brought pink and white tulips, pink Hydrangeas, solid deep purple pansies, and white pansies with a deep purple center. “I was so pleased by the spectacular finished arrangement,” says Judy. “Stunningly beautiful.”







Hearing and Singing on Good Friday

photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

This year, as on every Good Friday in the last decades, Hyosang Park, Princeton UMC’s music director, planned to observe the day by presenting a requiem, a musical    composition in honor of the agony and death of Jesus Christ. Choir members enthusiastically responded to a question about what this concert means to them. Just to participate in the celebration of Holy Week was important for Edwin Francisco. “It is always moving and exciting,” according to Bill Suits.

“It’s meaningful that some of our concerts were dedicated to members who had passed on,” said Karen Hoagland.

The lyrics of a requiem, said Christine Wong, “encompass major themes of the Bible: the covenant of salvation from Abraham to his descendants; God’s wrath and judgment; and man’s fear and suffocation for deliverance from sins and death. It abundantly praises God’s holiness and highness.”

Plans for the Good Friday have changed (Princeton UMC will have a virtual service at 6 p.m.) and choir rehearsals are now virtual, but – singers — here’s an innovative way to get the Holy Week music experience.’ Choose your favorite score, find the youtube video, and – sing along!

Joan Nuse would likely pick the requiem by living British composer Bob Chilcott. “It was an amazing experience. The songs were uplifting!”

Lori Pantaleo’s favorites include the one requiem by John Rutter. The most difficult, she said, came from France, by Maurice Durufle (1947) and Luigi Cherubini, who wrote his Requiem in c minor in 1816 to honor Louis XVI.  Other works in the Good Friday series were the “Seven Last Words” by Theodore Dubois in 1867, Faure’s Requiem (1890), Johann Sebastian Bach, Cantata 21, Anton Bruckner’s Requiem in d minor, Handel’s Messiah, and the 1837 Requiem in C minor by Michael Haydn.

Here is one video of the Seven Last Words, by Dubois and here is a version that is part of a Good Friday service from Katy, Texas.

The Faure Requiem

The Chilcott

The Bruckner

The Michael Haydn

The Cherubini

This video of Bach’s Cantata 21 and this one of the Cherubini  even come with sheet music!

This beautiful version of the John Rutter Requiem was dedicated to  the tragedy at Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.  

No matter what is on the program, or whether worshippers are present or online, Jenni Collins says she will look forward to “the intimate nature and the powerful emotion of a Good Friday service.”


Handbells Ring on Sunday May 21

Handbell quartet: Hyosang Park, Bill Gardner, Curt Hillegas, Robert Scheffler. Photo by Charles Phillips

If you loved the handbell concert on May 7, here is good news.  The handbell quartet will play for both services on Sunday, May 21 (that’s the Sunday Rev. Don Brash will preach). Also that day Hyosang Park will give a solo concert at Hillsborough Reformed Church at 4 p.m. That’s Sunday, May 21, at 4 p.m.

If you have always wanted to try handbells, come to the “handbell open houses” after the Here is Hyosang Park’s bell solo “It’s a Wonderful World.”

And, on the Facebook page for Princeton UMC, here is the familiar Mallotte version of the Lord’s Prayer. 

Handbells: May 7

“How can I keep from singing,” a concert at Princeton United Methodist Church on Sunday, May 7, at 5 p.m., might well be entitled “How can I keep from ringing” because the musicians are handbell artists. Hyosang Park will direct the handbell choir and ensembles. With pianist Julia Hanna, she will also be featured as a solo handbell artist. The concert is free, and donations will benefit the Appalachia Service Project mission team.

The handbell choir plays at the 9:30 and 11 a.m. services on third Sundays including Easter Sunday, April 16.

Handbell concerts are rare, and even rarer are solo artists — fewer than a dozen concertize with four octaves of handbells in the Eastern United States. “We aim, not only to bring the sound of handbells to a wider public, but to also enable nonprofit organizations help those who are in need,” says Park. As the director of music at Princeton United Methodist Church, she has master’s degrees in both sacred music and piano performance from Westminster Choir College of Rider University. She has private piano students and also teaches at St. Jerome Catholic School in West Long Branch.

For 40 years Princeton United Methodist Church has sent teen and adult volunteers to the Appalachia Service Project (ASP) to make homes warmer, safer, and drier. ASP is a Christian ministry, but it is open to those of any faith. It aims to inspire hope and service — instilling compassion for other people and a fresh appreciation for one’s place and purpose in the world.

Jesus mine, in me shine


Morning star, o cheering sight, ere thou camst how dark earth’s light. Jesus mine, in me shine, fill my heart with light divine…

These are the words of “Morning Star” sung responsively — in Moravian churches around the world. Layers of tradition surround this song. It brings many memories, because our family used to belong to a Moravian church.

The Chancel Choir at Princeton United Methodist Church sang “Morning Star” in an arrangement by Helen Kemp on Sunday, December 11.  That night, following the children’s musical ‘Twas the Light Before Christmas, Fellowship Hall will be transformed into a magical starry night for the Advent Night dinner. And the choir will reprise ‘Morning Star at a concert on December 18 at 5 p.m. with Jie Hayes and Christine Green as soloists.  The concert is entitled — “A Shining Star.”

Thy glad beams, thou Morning Star, cheer the nations near and far, Lord alone, thee we own, thou great Savior, God’s dear son.

signed …. Barbara Fox



Celebrate with Bells!


Celebrate the season with a free Christmas music concert every Sunday at 5 at Princeton United Methodist Church, corner of Nassau and Vandeventer. This Sunday (12/4) hear handbell choirs and a solo handbell artist — Hyosang Park of Duo Grazioso. It’s free! Questions? Call 609-924-2613 or or go to

On 12/11 enjoy a musical “Twas the Light Before Christmas directed by Tom Shelton plus a potluck dinner and carolilng. On  12/18 choirs and instrumentalists play Christmas carol favorites.   We hope you will join us!

Singing Joy and Ringing Faith


Today, to illustrate “giving thanks” for 9:30 service at Children’s Time,  Tom Shelton presented five of the youngest choristers singing folk favorites like  “Kumbayah,” “I’ve Got the Joy in My Heart” and “This Little Light.” It was such a blessing to hear them. Here is the video — see and hear for yourself!

This choir rehearses on Wednesdays at 4:30 and is open to all at no cost. It will join the older children to sing at the 9:30 service on December 4 and to present “Twas the Light Before Christmas,” an Advent musical, on Sunday, December 11, at 5 p.m.

Even the very youngest children, the three-and-four-year-olds, can enjoy singing. Shelton visits their class on some Sunday mornings.

Duo Grazioso: Hyosang Park, left, solo handbell artist, with pianist Akiko Hosaki

At both the 9:30 and 11 a.m. services, the congregation was blessed by hearing the handbell choir play two spirituals. Enjoy video,  taken from the balcony. Hyosang Park directs the ringers in arrangements by B,  Ingram of “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” and “Swing Low.”

The next opportunity to hear handbells ring will be Sunday, December 4, at 5 p.m., when Park directs the Handbell Choir and the Handbell Ensemble. As a special delight, Park will play solo handbells, along with Akiko Hosaki, as part of Duo Grazioso.

It was a joyful time of giving thanks.

Musical Highlights


La Fiocco, a period instrument ensemble that has scheduled a series of concerts at Princeton United Methodist Church, presents “Golden Age of the Countertenor” on Saturday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. It features international opera star Ray Chenez and emerging artist Daniel Moody in bravura arias and duets of Handel, Vivaldi, Vinci, and Telemann.  Ray Chenez was a 2014 first-prize winner of the prestigious George London Award and was recently profiled in Opera News. Daniel Moody recently completed his masters degree at Yale, and has been a featured young artist at Tanglewood.  La Fiocco will be performing on period instruments including baroque strings, recorder, and harpsichord. Tickets are $25, $10 for students, children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult.

Other musical events with PUMC connections:

Christopher McWilliams plays in Bristol Chapel of Westminster Choir College on Saturday, October 15, at 7:30 p.m., in a free faculty recital “Tea for Two and Beyond.” He is the organist at PUMC.

PUMC’s handbell choir, directed by Hyosang Park, leads worship on Sunday, October 16 at 9:30 and 11. 

PUMC’s children’s choirs, directed by Tom Shelton, sing on Sunday, November 6, at the (:30 a.m. service.


Handbells: as easy as one-two-three!

2016 july bell choir practice P1070553Just count one-two-three!

Do you have a secret longing to play handbells? For the handbell, being able to count is the more important than for any other instrument. It is almost like a doing a synchronized swimming with instruments in one’s hands/arms. But it is not as hard as it looks, as long as you can count 1-2-3.

This Sunday, July 24, a bell choir quartet will provide music for our 10 a.m. worship service and everyone is also invited to try out the handbells after the service.

PUMC’s bell choir is led by Hyosang Park, who just happens to be a nationally known handbell artist.  She invites you to the Sunday, July 24 open house. She soothes your doubts: “Maybe you always wanted to try, but you could not because of time, or you were afraid to make mistakes, you were intimidated, or you thought you were not a musical person and do not play any instruments. After naming all these reasons that you shouldn’t be in a handbell choir, if you still hear a voice in your heart saying ‘I would love to learn how to play the bells just for fun,’  I encourage you to come to the open house. You will not be asked to join the bell choir nor asked to play during services. Just come and have some FUN! Looking forward to seeing you!”

If you can, please RSVP to to

2016 july hanbell-folks

Love in French and Italian: June 5 concert

2016 June Alex ImboFrench and Italian songs speak love in quite different ways, says soprano Alex Farkas. With Hyosang Park she presents a concert of works by Donaudy, Puccini, Fauré, Schwartz, and Hayes.  “Songs of Love and Joy” will be Sunday, June 5, 3:30 p.m. at PUMC, 7 Vandeventer Avenue.  The concert is free, and an offering will be taken for the Appalachia Service Project.

French songs express different colors of harmony without any rubato, in contrast to the Italian, which uses beautiful legato lines with rubato — a musical term that refers to expressive and rhythmic freedom by changing the tempo momentarily. Farkas will also sing sets of of lullabies and inspirational songs such as ‘A Bridge over Troubled Water,’ ‘You Raise Me Up,’ ‘Over the Rainbow’ and more.

Farkas, a Belle Mead resident, has a Bachelor of Music and an MA in teaching from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where she sang with the world-renowned Symphonic Choir that performed in Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center under the batons of such distinguished conductors as Pierre Boulez and Kurt Masur. As a soprano soloist, Farkas has performed in such works as the Duruflé Requiem, Bach Cantata No.19, Haydn’s Theresienmesse, and the world premiere of Ken Morrison’s “God Won’t Pass You By.” Currently she studies with  Mark Moliterno. A K-12 certified music teacher in New Jersey, Farkas teaches in the Music Together program in schools in the Trenton area. She also offers music education to many families in Mercer County and works as an In-School Services Mentor at Music Together’s international headquarters in Hopewell. She is a member of the PUMC Chancel Choir and Bell Choir.

As PUMC’s music director, Park leads the Chancel Choir and Handbell Choir and concertizes as a solo handbell artist. She has double master’s degrees in sacred music and piano performance from Westminster Choir College of Rider University. A Cranbury resident, Park has private piano students and also teaches at St. Jerome Catholic School in West Long Branch.

For four decades youth from PUMC have been participating in the national ASP program, which aims to help make homes in Appalachia warmer, safer, and drier.  Preparation for this year’s trip to Sullivan County, Tennessee includes fundraising, learning Appalachian culture (and the poverty many face), basic construction skills, and the meaning of service to others. “The PUMC youth program welcomes all teens of all backgrounds, church members and non-church members alike, to participate in the life-changing experience of the ASP,” says Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash, senior pastor. The ASP team will lead worship and report on their trip on Sunday, July 10 at 10 a.m.