All the earth worships thee; they sing praises to thee, sing praises to thy name." -- Psalm 66:4
Music is a vital part of our ministry, bringing a sense of reverence to our worship services and spiritual nourishment to all who participate. Music has ancient and mystical links to worship and brings a spiritual depth to the moments of joy and sorrow in our lives. The psalmist directs us to "Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing."
First Presbyterian therefore offers a broad spectrum of opportunities to enhance worship with music. We invite you to listen or to join us in praising God through a musical medium. For those seeking to perform, the options range from singing well-known hymns of the Presbyterian tradition during the regular worship service to performing as a soloist or in one of our choirs, ringing handbells, producing Christmas cantatas, or accompanying our children's singing during church-school and nursery hour. Our musicians derive a spiritual benefit from the opportunity to use their talents as an offering to God, and they learn more about themselves and about their gifts from association with other musicians.
Dr. David Covington - Director of Music
Dr. Covington joined the staff at First Presbyterian in 1994 and has been active in Music Ministry for over 25 years. A graduate of Mars Hill College with a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance, he also has a Master's of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Southwestern Seminary and a Ph.D. in Choral Music Education/Conducting from The Florida State University.
He has had several full- and part-time church music positions in Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, and Florida.
David is married to Diane Covington, Choral Director at Leesville High School. They have a daughter, Meredith, and a son, Jonathan.
Craig M. Barfield - Organist
Craig is a life-long resident of Raleigh. Growing up, he attended Edenton Street United Methodist Church. Craig has been the organist at First Presbyterian Church since October 2002. He has been deeply involved with church music for all of his adult life.
A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, Craig is also a CPA. In his spare time, he works with various management boards to preserve some of North Carolina's historic Presbyterian churches.
Craig has served as organist at various churches in the area, including a college stint at Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church in Southern Pines, NC, and an 18-year tenure at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Raleigh.
He is married to Alexander Barfield, formerly of Lexington, Virginia; they have a son, Austin, and a daughter, Elizabeth.
The organist at First Presbyterian Church is Craig Barfield, who plays for regularly scheduled services.
We encourage participation in worship by developing instrumental musicians and are often treated to performances of sacred works by our talented youth. In addition, from time to time professional musicians from the area and from the NC Symphony come to First Presbyterian, both as soloists and in groups, or as orchestral accompanists for choral music.
We're always looking for volunteers to participate in our music program in any capacity. Just contact our Director of Music, David Covington, at the church office.
Sing with the Summer Choir!
Like you, many of our Chancel Choir members travel during the summer months. Some claim to be away making "guest appearances" at the beach or in the mountains. The Chancel Choir thus becomes the "Summer Choir" from about June 10 to the first Sunday in September because "Summer Here, and Summer Not." They continue singing for each 11 a.m. service throughout the summer, but they do not have their usual Thursday-evening rehearsals until the first Thursday in September.
And they would love your help. Perhaps you have thought about singing in the choir, but have not been able to make the time commitment. The summer choir provides a great opportunity for you. The musical selections will be less demanding, appropriate for performances with minimal rehearsal time. All that is required is that you appear in the choir room on Sundays at 10:25 a.m., beginning June 10. Each Sunday, we will rehearse the music for that Sunday and the next.
Senior high through senior adults should take advantage of this opportunity and join us this summer. If you have questions, contact David Covington.
Schedule: The Summer Choir rehearses on Sunday mornings at 10:25 in the choir room (beneath the Sanctuary).
Children's Choir (young children)
The Children's Choir rehearses on Sunday evenings as part of the Pathfinders Program. Participation in worship services in the sanctuary takes place several times each year.
The Children's choir is directed by Ann LeGarde. Young children are invited to sing with our combined children's choir for ages 5 through 11 (or Grade 5).
Each year, the children's choir and older youth combine to present a Christmas pageant for the entire church community. Children too young for the Children's Choir (under age 5) can participate in non-speaking roles.
Schedule: Children's Choir rehearsal is part of the Pathfinders Program on Sunday evenings, 5:00 pm to 7:15. See the section on children's activities at our Youth Activities page for more information about the Pathfinders Program.
Chapel Choir (Youth)
Grades 6 - 12.
Participation in choir helps our youth set aside time for worship and establish a lifelong habit of service. While its primary purpose is to nurture the Christian growth, spiritual discipline, and musical education of middle- and high-school-aged children, participation in the Chapel Choir also provides fellowship of a kind that adolescents may not be able to find outside their church community.
Schedule: The Chapel Choir rehearses on Sunday evenings from 5:00 to 6:00 under the direction of our very own Megan Yohman, a graduate of UNC-Greensboro with a major in Music. You can find them in the Rehearsal Room in the basement of the Edge Building.
Adults, college age through senior adult.
The Chancel Choir provides choral music for the 11 a.m. service each Sunday, occasionally for the 8:30 a.m. service, and for other special services in the life of the church throughout the year. Solo voices or auditions are not required, but a well-focused voice that blends, some ability to read music, and consistent attendance at rehearsals and services are very important.
Schedule: The Chancel Choir rehearses on Thursday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 under the direction of Dr. David Covington, Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church.
Adult Handbell Choir
The Handbell Choir, under the direction of Dr. David Covington, is open to interested musicians from high-school age and up. The choir uses a four-octave set of Schulmerich handbells to prepare and present music for worship approximately once each month.
Schedule: The Handbell Choir rehearses 7:30-9:00 p.m. each Wednesday.
NC Master Chorale at FPC
The 170 member North Carolina Master Choral (NCMC), under the direction of Dr. Al Sturgis, rehearses in Memorial Hall at FPC each Tuesday. Eight members of FPC sing with the chorale, whose membership is by audition.
The NCMC has now made a professional recording in our sanctuary. Composer Donald B. Miller asked them to sing and record a new composition, "Here Rests in Honored Glory," a composite of original music and familiar tunes, including "Taps," "All Glory, Laud, and Honor," and "Hail to the Lord's Anointed."
The composition was dedicated as the "Official Hymn of Mourning" for the group Paralyzed Veterans of American and Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. The title, "Here Rests in Honored Glory," comes from the inscription on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
All proceeds from the forthcoming CD recording of the performance in the First Presbyterian sanctuary will go directly to the veterans group.
New Compositions Premiered
On Sunday, Dec. 11, 2005, the FPC Chancel Choir presented the North Carolina premiere of a new, unpublished composition by Joseph Jenkins, "Cantate Hodie (Sing Forth This Day)".
On Sunday, Dec. 16, 2007, the Chancel Choir combined with the Chapel (youth) choir and an orchestra to present two new, unpublished works, "A Carol Fantasy," by John Alexander, and "Magnificat," by Nicholas White.