first Presbyterian Church

of Cumberland, Maryland

Director of Music Ministries – Judith Brown

The Sanctuary Choir is the backbone of our Music Ministry. We sing a wide variety of music from plainchant to modern gospel and most everything in between. You may find an anthem by Mendelssohn or Bach one week, a traditional Spiritual the next week, and a Christian contemporary arrangement of a well-known hymn the week after that. We are often accompanied by members of the congregation and occasionally members of the Frostburg State University music department for special worship services. We sing in various languages and look to the musical expressions of faith from many cultures in our praise of God.
We rehearse each Wednesday evening (September to June) from 7:30 to 9pm, following the JoyBells Handbell Choir rehearsal, and then meet each Sunday morning at 10:15am to prepare for 11am worship. Although a serious commitment in time, the art of making music together touches the soul where words cannot reach and is an oasis of joy and fellowship in everyone’s busy workweek. We always welcome new members. If you are interested in being a part of an exciting music ministry, contact Judie Brown, Director of Music Ministries, at 301-777-3700, x 104. No music-reading ability is required. We only ask that you briefly meet with Judie for voice placement and orientation.
Julie Courtney, Director
Zephaniah 3:18 says “Is this a choir I hear?  No, it is the Lord, rejoicing over you in song.” We have often considered our bell choir (JoyBells) as a miniature example of the Body of Christ. We come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. We play different sizes of bells in different amounts, sometimes melody, sometimes harmony. Yet each person is extremely important and whenever anyone is missing, or having a hard time ringing something, we all feel the difference in our music. 
The JoyBells Handbell Choir is in its 32nd year of continuous ringing. We rehearse on Wednesday evenings from 6–7:20 p.m. The choir includes 5 octaves of Malmark handbells and a 3 octave set of Malmark Handchimes.
Rehearsals begin the Wednesday after Labor Day for our “Polish and Parlay” session. Ringing once a month in worship begins in October and continues through May. The JoyBells group has, on occasion, provided music in worship during the summer and have been invited to play at different venues during the Christmas season.
First Presbyterian is blessed with one of the best pipe organs in Western Maryland.  Consisting of 31 ranks, the organ was revoiced and reconditioned in 2001 by Lewis & Hitchcock of Beltsville, Maryland.  It is a remarkable sound which supports the congregation’s singing, accompanies the choir anthems and provides repertoire drawn from over five centuries of composition.
The organ console was recently replaced with a draw knob console and some of the 31 ranks were extended. This upgrade was possible through the generosity of members of First Presbyterian. 
First Presbyterian hosts the Cumberland Choral Society, a 80-year old plus musical institution in our community. The wonderful acoustics in the sanctuary make it a perfect setting for their twice yearly concerts. Judith Brown is the Artistic Director.