Note: All Souls’ Episcopal Church is temporarily not holding any in-person gatherings due to coronavirus concerns, but offering online worship services through live-streaming via Zoom video at allsoulspointloma.org
As All Souls’ Episcopal Church in Point Loma (1475 Catalina Blvd.) is enjoying another year of its respected music program; its reputation for excellence draws congregants, audiences and participants from all over San Diego County.
“Music at All Souls’ uses the uniqueness of our Anglican choral heritage to fill the hearts and minds with the glory of God as revealed through our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Rev. Joseph J. Dirbas, church Rector. “All Souls’ is a vibrant Episcopal Church that celebrates the arts and music as an expression of God’s love. Every time we gather for worship, we give thanks for the love of God which creates, redeems and sustains us through our days.”
With a world-class organ and both adult and children’s choirs, All Souls’ music program has thrived under the direction of Ruben Valenzuela (see related story, “News Briefs for Point Loma-Ocean”), who took over the program in 2015.
The adult choir numbers 25, with eight youngsters in the children’s choir. All performances, which are mostly presented in the context of the church’s liturgy, are free and open to the public.
“Our choir is a bit unusual in that not all who sing with us are members of our church or even residents of Point Loma,” Valenzuela pointed out. “Singers are drawn to All Souls’ for a variety of reasons — the reputation of the music program, a warm and inviting community to be part of, and a church that holds music and the arts as central to its mission.”
Many works that enter the choral canon were originally written by composers specifically for the church. These include hymns by David Charles Walker, who for five years in the 1980s directed the music program at All Souls’.
Two decades later, Valenzuela is expanding the music program as part of All Souls’ ongoing commitment to offer the best music program as part of its worship. Over the last four years, Valenzuela has founded a children’s choir affiliated with the Royal School of Church Music, America and has commissioned a Requiem Mass from Canadian composer Stephanie Martin to mark the church’s annual observance of All Souls’ Day.
Additionally, he has established a choral program that first and foremost supports the church’s worship, and also offers the very best liturgical repertoire possible from the Middle Ages through to the present day.
Choir members must audition to join. Although most are volunteers, section leaders are paid to form the core of the ensemble. In addition to the church’s own musical programming, it often hosts performances by Bach Collegium San Diego (All Souls’ Ensemble-in-Residence) and other ensembles.
There is some crossover, as some singers perform in multiple ensembles. For example, in spring 2020 Bach Collegium San Diego will need a children’s choir for one of its seasonal concerts, and Valenzuela intends to draw young singers from All Souls’ as well as the Our Lady of Peace choir program and the San Diego Children’s Choir.
“It’s very gratifying to me that in less than five years, our music program has grown and flourished,” Valenzuela said. “It’s an indication of the level of artistic excellence there is in the San Diego community, as well as the thirst for quality vocal performance of all types. All Souls’ welcomes everyone to our church — whether to attend a service, enjoy the music, or both.”
The All Souls’ choir can be heard at the 10:15 a.m. Sunday services, as well as at monthly Choral Evensong services, 5 p.m. third Sundays. These are are sometimes followed by a social gathering.
— For information about joining the choir, visit allsoulspointloma.org
‘Great Four’ Anglican Hymns
In his Anglican Hymnology, published in 1885, the Rev. James King surveyed 52 hymnals from the member churches of the Anglican Communion around the world, and found that 51 of them included these hymns, the so-called Great Four:
1) “All Praise to Thee, my God, this Night” text by Thomas Ken
2) “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” text by Charles Wesley
3) “Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending” text by Charles Wesley
4) “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” text by Augustus Montague Toplady