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The 10 most beautiful easy choral pieces of all time

A choir singing easy choral pieces
A choir singing easy choral pieces

There are so many great choral works, including monumental masterpieces like Handel’s Messiah, Bach's St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis (to name only a handful). Unfortunately these works require instrumental resources and performing skills that put them beyond the range of many amateur choirs. Luckily, however, there are also many great easy choral works that are perfect for amateurs and professionals alike. These pieces can also be practised here on 8notes using our exclusive playback feature that allows singers to hear their individual choral lines. Here, in no particular order then, are our ten most beautiful easy choral pieces of all time!

1. Mozart Ave Verum Corpus

Mozart wrote his Ave Verum Corpus just six months before his death in 1791. It presages some elements of his final work, the Requiem, left unfinished at his death, but is small in scale and simpler in its means of expression. It was originally scored for strings and choir but is nowadays very often performed with organ or piano. At just 46 bars long and with a very friendly vocal range for all parts it is one of the best bangs for the choral buck out there.

2. Brucker Locus Iste

Written in 1869 for the dedication of a new Cathedral in Linz, Austria, Locus iste a Deo factus est literally means ‘This place was made by God.’ It is a short work with a simple three-part structure. It presents few technical difficulties whilst making a profound effect, making it a very popular choice amongst choirs.

3–5. Senzenina, Shozalosa and Siyahamba

There is some truly great traditional African music for choirs, but these three are our, and indeed or members' favourites. All three are simple to sing.

Senzenina is a moving South African anti-apartheid song with a very characteristic call and response structure. There is plenty of opportunity for improvisation in the solo line, as in this performance:

Siyahamba is a Zulu hymn that also became popular in North American churches using the words ‘We Are Marching in the Light of God.’

Shosholoza has so much interest in each vocal line that it's a good idea to spotlight each vocal line in turn before they are all sung equally. If the piece builds gradually, as in this performance, it will raise the roof:

6. Byrd Ave Verum Corpus

Perhaps there is something about the eucharistic text of the Ave Verum that brings out a composer’s best work, since this setting, written 200 years before that of Mozart is another spine-tingling choral classic. In true Renaissance style there is a good deal of independence in individual vocal lines, which does makes this a bit trickier, but once learned those lines are eminently singable.

7. Faure - Cantique de Jean Racine, Op.11

Fauré wrote his Cantique de Jean Racine at the age of just 19 for a choral competition. It is hardly surprising that it won him first prize, since it is a work of sublime beauty, the vocal writing poised and well-balanced, the flowing accompaniment acting as an unobtrusive but elegant support. These factors, together with the undemanding nature of the vocal parts have made it a very popular piece amongst choirs.

8. Allegri - Miserere

Written in the 1630s, it is perhaps the most famous, not to mention most transportive choral work of all time. It was once so prized that it was exclusively performed by the choir of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, printed scores being carefully controlled. It was popularised in the modern era by Easter performances at King’s College Cambridge, with a seminal recording featuring Roy Goodman singing the high treble solo. That solo does make this piece tricky, though the other parts are relatively straightforward, so it's a great choice if you have one star singer in your choir.

9. Tallis - If Ye Love Me

It’s amazing to think that the same person who wrote the fiendishly complicated Spem in Alium for 40 voices also wrote this ravishingly simple motet, which is a setting of words spoken by Jesus to his disciples foretelling his death. Written around 1565 it is one of the true gems of Elizabethan choral music.

10. Vivaldi - Gloria

The only longer work on this list, Vivaldi’s Gloria consists of a total of twelve movements, some of which are for vocal soloists. The work is not, however, difficult for an amateur choir to perform, making it a great choice for ensembles looking to mount a first more ambitious performance. And for those more constrained, the first movement alone makes a really impactful concert piece.

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