Dedicating his new anthem to those who lost their lives to Covid-19, Tom Shelton, director of Princeton UMC’s Youth Choirs, took all the precautions against the disease. Recording outdoors at Veteran’s Park in Lawrenceville, the singers wore special “singers masks,” and Delaney McCarty’s flute had its own mask. Bill Gardner managed the recording.
Tom Shelton, music director of children’s and youth choirs at PUMC, wrote the hymn “This Child” and composed its music.
The lyrics of this Christmas song makes it suitable for release during the Coronavirus pandemic. Says Tom: “The verses represent what many of us have felt during this period of isolation. We have to keep our faith and believe in This Child.”
Here are the lyrics of the chorus:
“Where do I run, where can I hide,
When the world comes crashing down.
Where can I turn, who do I call,
When there’s no one else around.
I turn to you; I call on my faith,
And the promise delivered that night –
Shelton played and sang “This Child” during worship on Sunday, September 13, 2020, as the children’s and youth choirs resumed their activities this week, meeting virtually (mostly).
To follow our worship service on FaceBook and sing with us, click here
Sunday being Youth Music Sunday, our Youth Choir led all of the music and liturgist parts. Under Tom Shelton’s musical leadership, William Ponder, Leanne Griffiths, Kasey Angelo, Amy Angelo, Julia Potts, Ana Francisco-Cabus. Reanna Bartels- Quansah, Gillian Bartels- Quansah, Lena Hamilton, Elli Collins, Maggie Collins, Julia Potts, Sophia Penn, Robin Roth, Delaney McCarty, Andre Penn, Izzy Distase all took part in leading the service. We have such gifted and grace-filled young people who genuinely lead worship and not just perform.
Tom does a brilliant job,” says Pastor Jenny Smith Walz, “teaching them about worship and worship leadership, about the liturgical year, scripture, and being a church community, as well as musical techniques and anthems.” The songs they performed included popular hymns, “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” “Amazing Grace,” “For the Beauty of the Earth,” “Down to the River to Pray,” and Chopin’s Waltz in A minor.
They have just wrapped up another year of singing, playing, leading worship, offering their gifts, learning, and loving. Thank You Youth Choir and Director Tom Shelton!
If you weren’t able to worship with us this past Sunday, you’d want to go back to the archive on our website or Facebook Linkto watch our amazing youth doing God’s work.
Thanks to the video conferencing program Zoom and the efforts of church staff, children and youth can participate in church life through Sunday School, Confirmation Class, Youth Fellowship – and even the children’s choir meets online with Tom Shelton, children’s and youth choir director.
For instance, at the 30-minute practice on April 1, Tom opened with fun vocal warmups, giving everyone a chance to demonstrate. With a short video, he reviewed what Palm Sunday means and connected it to Sunday’s worship. Children learned the “Hosanna” opening hymn to get ready to wave palms from their homes on Sunday.
Sometimes the children saw only Tom, sometimes they saw and heard one person singing a solo, sometimes their faces were spread out in a grid. “It does my heart good,” says Tom, when I look at all of their faces, and they are sitting up tall in their chairs at home and actually singing!
Connection is the most important part, Tom says. “These are troubling times. It’s nice to have some sense of normalcy or ‘routine’ when everything they are used to is ‘up in the air.’ They LOVE being together!”]
It is takes three times longer to plan a virtual class, practicing how to move from warm up exercises to showing a score. Mostly the singer’s screens are muted, but they unmute themselves to respond. “I love how much they want to be a leader and sing an example,” says Tom. “I have to be very conscious that It’s not ‘just singing,’ but that I’m stretching them musically, by asking questions and having them explain the answers or type the answer in the “chat” message box.
On April 15 the singers will enjoy a treat. They will reprise the musical from February in a virtual “sing along!”
Says Tom: “One positive thing – I’m growing a lot by doing this! I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks! “
The beauty of Christian music comes alive when children and youth feel what the lyrics say, says Tom Shelton, PUMC’s director of children’s and youth choirs and a sacred music professor at Westminster Choir College.
Encourage families you know to bring their children to choir practice! Choristers learn good singing techniques and music theory; they participate in worship monthly, present a musical, and sing at special services throughout the year.
Open houses for parents and children will be Wednesday, September 18 at 4:30 p.m. (kindergarten and first grade) and the same day at 5:30 p.m. for second through fifth grade.
The first rehearsal for youth (grades 6-12) isSunday, September 15, 5 p.m. Tomteaches the youngest children, ages three and four, during their Sunday School class.
There is no charge to be in a choir, and singers do not need to be church members.”I want young singers to love music their whole life, not just for the time they are with me,” says Tom.
On Sunday, May 12, 2019, Pastor Jenny Smith Walz andYouth Choir Director Tom Shelton presented a worship service with the theme “Revealing Resurrection: An Amazing Detour.” Selections from Broadway musicals by Stephen Schwartz illustrated the sermon.
To illustrate the scripture from Acts 16:9-15, the Youth Choir sang “God Help the Outcasts.” Here is the song, not from the youth choir, but the movie“The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
As part of her message, Pastor Jenny tells us that, “God has given me a vision and has brought resurrection in me. I have experienced renewal and healing and a new opening to God’s spirit. I have been able to see, and I hope that together, we can learn to see even more how God is giving us a vision.We can see how God is helping us to perceive a new reality, not only to see the outcasts among us, but also to see how we too are outcasts in need of God’s grace, how God is blessing us over and over.”
She hopes, “God is giving each of us a vision that helps to move us from places of fear to places of trust.”
Listen to Pastor Jenny as she encourages us to be open to the miracles and the visions that are right here before us.
The Children’s Choir musical is always something special – and we can look forward to some delightful surprises on Sunday, February 24, at the 10 a.m. service. Tom Shelton is presenting his own musical, “Lost Then Found.” It is based on three “lost” parables – the Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep, and the Lost Son.
Among the surprises – Tom’s collaborator on this musical is his sister, Camilla Shelton Pruitt. She is director of music at Trinity United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Alabama.
At Princeton UMC Tom is Director of Children’s and Youth Choirs, and at Westminster Choir College he is Associate Professor of Sacred Music. For the Princeton Girlchoir, he directs two ensembles – Grace Notes and SemiTones. He currently serves as the National President of the American Choral Directors Association. Last year he led nine choral workshops in six states. His portfolio (TomSheltonMusic.net) includes 18 commissioned works, more than 40 songs for children or treble voices, and 15 pieces for mixed or adult voices. In addition to his many other honors, duties, and publications, Tom has begun the new Tom Shelton Choral Series.
The children delighted us on February 4 with a selection from “Lost Then Found,” wearing their green robes, but they look forward to getting their costumes! Top photo: Tom Shelton with (Front row from left) Elizabeth Wong, Elliot Walz, Lily Oesterle. Second row: Isaac Penn, Julianna Collins, Ryan Babler, Phoebe Roth. Third row: Izzy Distase, Aditi Rapaka, Maggie Collins, Julie Potts, Alex Distase. Not pictured: Ethan Hamilton, Ryan Babler, Ivania and Sohela Neto, Mira Sridar.
The Children’s Choirs will present their musical, The Tale of Three Trees, on Sunday, April 23, at 9:30 and 11 a.m. Written by Allen Pote and Tom Lang, and directed by Tom Shelton, this musical brings to life the traditional story of some trees with a dream and God with a plan.
The Youth Choir will present a series of skits, vignettes, solos, and anthems for Youth Sunday, April 30. Because of Communiversity there will be one service that day, at 9:30 a.m. Both choirs will reprise their musicals for Communiversity at 2 p.m.
The children’s musical follows the adventures of three trees — bringing to life the traditional story of some trees with a dream and God with a plan. The first tree dreams of holding great treasure; the second tree longs to become a mighty ship, and the third tree just wants to stay in the forest and point people to God. Told through story and song, the congregation is reminded that even when we can’t see the forest for the trees, there is no prayer that is too small for God.
It’s a good story but trees can’t possibly have social relationships, right? We grownups would scoff at that idea and say merely that this musical is an imaginative way to present Christian truths.
Yet in “The Hidden Life of Trees,” an international bestseller, forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers.
As we learn more about our world, we learn that God has amazing plans. We look forward to April 23, when the children will teach us about God.
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.
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 office@PrincetonUMC.org or go to http://princetonumc.org/
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!