Upcoming Event:
  • 00


  • 00


  • 00


  • 00


Pastoral Emergencies: 908-722-9265


Music at St. John’s

St. John's Choirs
St. John's Choirs

A Prayer for Church Musicians and Artists

O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.—The Book of Common Prayer, page 819


Music at St. John’s

Choral music has played an important role at St. John’s since we first opened our doors in 1850, and the first vested choir began singing in 1895. Today we offer choral programs embracing singers from all ages, providing a rich offering of music for our worship and for the community. We offer free concerts throughout the academic year in our historic church as a give of beauty and refreshment to our community. Come and join us!


St. John’s Choristers

The St. John’s Chorister program is based on the idea that all children are able to sing, given encouragement and instruction. We offer free music education and performance opportunities for girls and boys, kindergarten through high school, including voice instruction and hand chimes. Children from Somerville and our surrounding communities, all economic circumstances and all faith traditions are welcome. Choristers need not be members of St. John’s; they must only agree to rehearse and perform as scheduled.


St. John’s Parish Choir

The Parish Choir is a dedicated group of adults, and occasionally choristers join as well. Our repertoire ranges from chant to Renaissance motets, Anglican anthems, jazz, gospel, spirituals, and more. New members are always welcome, and rehearsals are Thursdays at 7:15 p.m.

Choirs are important communities that foster Christian formation, spread the Good News of Jesus, and grow the church. Come and be a part of this exciting ministry at St. John’s Church!


St. John’s Organ

One of the first events in the current church was an organ recital in 1895. The current organ was built by Gress-Miles Organ Company of Princeton, New Jersey and installed in August 1977. The organ contains 26 ranks, 1,385 pipes, 2 manuals, and 20 stops. It was dedicated on November 6, 1977 in a concert by organist Ralph Kneeream. The recital featured music by Bach, Clérambault, Stanley, d’Aquin, Franck, Bingham, and Sowerby. You can see more about the organ at https://pipeorgandatabase.org/organ/56938

If you are interested in the choirs and would like more information please contact Mark Trautman at mtrautman@stjohnsomerville.org

St. Cecilia ~ Patron Saint ~ Musicians, Composers, Instrument Makers, Poets

Saint Cecilia is said to have heard heavenly music inside her heart when she was forced to marry the pagan, Valerian. A wealth of music, art and festivals in honor of St. Cecilia has grown from this little bit of information from her biography. She is the acclaimed patron saint of music, especially church music, as well as that of musicians, composers, instrument makers and poets. The name Cecilia means blind and so, although it is unknown if she herself was blind, she is also the Catholic patron saint of the blind.


Although the dates of her birth and martyrdom are unknown, iIt is believed that St. Cecilia was born in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., A religious romance telling the love story of Saint Cecilia and Valerian appeared in Greece during the 4th century A. D., and there is also a biography of St. Cecilia dating from the 5th century A. D.


She is purported to have been the daughter of a wealthy Roman family, a Christian from birth, who was promised in marriage to a pagan named Valerian Cecilia, however, had vowed her virginity to God, and wore sackcloth, fasted and prayed in hopes of keeping this promised.


Saint Cecilia disclosed her wishes to her husband on their wedding night. She told Valerian that an angel watched over her to guard her purity. He wanted to see the angel, so St. Cecilia sent him to Pope Urban (223-230). Accounts of how and when Valerian saw the angel vary, but one states that he was baptized by the Pope, and, upon his return to Saint Cecilia, they were both given heavenly crowns by an angel. Another version recounts that Tiberius, Valerian’s brother, sees the crowns and he too is converted.

The two brothers then made it their mission to bury Christian martyrs put to death by the prefect of the city. In turn, they were brought in front of the prefect and sentenced to death by the sword.


Cecilia, in the meantime, continued to make many conversions, and prepared to have her home preserved as a church at her death.


Finally, she too was arrested and brought before the prefect. He ruled that she should die by suffocation in the baths. Saint Cecilia was locked into the bathhouse and the fires vigorously stoked. She remained there for a day and a night but was still alive when the soldiers opened the doors. She was then ordered beheaded, but the executioner, after striking three times without severing St. Cecilia’s head, ran away, leaving her badly wounded.

St. Cecilia hung onto life for three days after the mortal blows, preaching all the while. She made many more conversions and people came to soak up her flowing blood with sponges and cloths. There exists in Rome a church in St. Cecilia’s honor that dates from about the fifth century. Her relics were believed to have been found by Pope Paschal I in 821 A.D., in the cemetery of St. Celestas. These remains (said to be incorrupt) were exhumed in 1599, when Cardinal Paul Emilius Sfondrati rebuilt the church of St. Cecilia.


St. Cecilia’s following flourished during the middle Ages in Europe. Songs were sung in her name, poetry was written, paintings with St Cecilia as the subject were created (three are above), and her feast day, on November 22 was happily celebrated.


She continued to be a popular topic for the arts well into the 18th century. Hans Memling, in 1470, painted St. Cecilia playing the organ at the mystical marriage of Catherine of Alexandria. In 1584 she was named patroness of the academy of music founded in Rome. Raphael painted her at Bologna, Rubens at Berlin and Domenichino in Paris. Chaucer commemorates her in his Second Nun’s Tale and Handel set John Dryden’s “Ode to Saint Cecilia” to music in 1736.


Never was so much made of such a tiny bit of pseudo-biographical information. St. Cecilia, said to have heard heavenly music at one moment of her life, became the patroness of all western music. Even the Andrews Sisters, in 1941, recorded a song, “The Shrine of St. Cecilia.”