Sanctuary, Sundays at 10:30 a.m.
Of the multiple ways to encounter God through worship at First Presbyterian, you may find rich expressions of your faith in the liturgical practices of our traditional services. Elements of our traditional worship include:
Scripture serves as the touchstone for our worship and is woven into the entire fabric of our services though prayer, music, preaching, and teaching.
CHOIRS AND SINGING
Our diverse vocal choirs range in age and offer a variety of musical styles during Sunday services as well as special services on other occasions and concerts throughout the year. FPCA is blessed to have more than 200 participants in organized choirs, including Children’s Choir and Jr Bells (grades 2-5); Youth Choir (grades 6 to 12); Cantate Domino (high school through adult); Gospel Choir (high school through adult), and Chancel Choir (college and adult). We have 3 in-house bell choirs for adults and youth: Adult Bells, Youth Bells, and The Belles.
You’ll hear a range of traditional instrumentation during services in our sanctuary and chapel, including handbells, piano, brass, woodwinds, and strings. For many, the sound of our magnificent sanctuary organ embodies the aural experience of church and worship much as architecture and stained glass embodies the visual.
Worship at First Presbyterian is communal, and members of all ages play roles in leading and serving the congregation during services.
PRAYER AND CONTEMPLATION
Prayer takes many forms in our worship services. Pastoral prayers bring the concerns of the congregation, our community and world to God. In prayers of confession, we bring our sin—both individual and corporate—to God so that we are ready and able to hear the word of God preached. Silent prayers allow us to bring individual praise and concerns to God. The Lord’s Prayer covers all our other prayers. As we pray that God’s “will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we pray for God’s best intention for ourselves and for all people.
A variety of stained-glass windows, especially the Apostle’s Creed window in the balcony, fill our sanctuary with a soft glow of light and color.
Coordinator of Traditional Worship
VOCAL AND BELL CHOIRS
Congregational singing responds to the spoken word, while choir anthems offer thanks and praise to God and prepare the congregation for the message of the day. We use The Presbyterian Hymnal: Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs, which offers hymns from gospel, evangelical, Reformed, and racial and ethnic traditions. On any given Sunday, you may hear an anthem from the 20th century, a spiritual or gospel anthem with African-American roots, an anthem written by one of the great composers of the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical or Romantic periods, or a sacred folk tune or hymn arranged for choir.
When founded in 1831, FPCA became the first English-speaking church in the Lehigh Valley. This was a conscious decision to be a forward-looking, visionary congregation that sought to speak in word and song in ways that engage the worshiper, and we hold to that ideal. The members of the congregation are vital participants, not observers, in the worship experience through music.
First Presbyterian Church of Allentown offers many musical opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.
To view the rehearsal and master worship schedule, click here.
FPCA has four handbell ensembles directed by Tom Dressler. Our ensembles play on five octaves of Malmark handbells, plus three octaves of Malmark Choirchimes®. Rehearsals are from September through May.
Adult Handbell Choir: Adults ages 18+
- This advanced group appears occasionally in worship
- Rehearses Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The Belles: Adults interested in creative recreation and sharing the beauty of handbells with the church and community
- Makes service-oriented appearances in convalescent homes and community organizations
- Rehearses Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Youth Handbell Choir: Grades 6 to 12
- Appears occasionally in worship
- Rehearses Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Junior Bell Choir: Grades 4 to 5
- Appears occasionally in worship
- A training choir that develops musical and ringing skills, as well as a sense of teamwork
- Rehearses Thursdays, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Childcare is available for all of our events, but reservations must be made at least 3 days in advance. To make a reservation, call 610-395-3781 ext. 21 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
First Presbyterian Church of Allentown serves as caretaker for many precious instruments. To find out more about our instruments, click on the link below.
Central to church worship for several hundred years, the organ is unlike any other instrument, capable of a full range of emotional contrasts that allow a congregation, in sacred song, to experience the words as well as the music of the church.
First Presbyterian’s magnificent pipe organ is one of Allentown’s finest. Designed in the 1950s by Richard Hartman, then FPCA’s Director of Music, in consultation with the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, CT, it was installed in our sanctuary in the spring of 1959, several months after the congregation began to worship in its new facility. The building and organ were designed to function as a cohesive unit, capable of supporting and enriching the singing experience of several hundred worshipers with beauty and grandeur. The organ contains more than 4,000 pipes—small to huge, wood and metal—most located immediately behind the back Chancel wall, with a number exposed on either side of the cross. The exposed pipes were added when our sanctuary was renovated in 2000.
Air for the organ is drawn into louvers near the library and continues upward into a very large blower on the second floor in a room above the kitchen. From there, pressurized air enters the pipe chamber, where valves and switches allow pipes to speak as the organ is played. The beauty of the installation is that all of the pipes are in one central chamber and speak directly into the sanctuary.
Those who worship in Traditional services are beneficiaries of the vision and foresight of our First Presbyterian ancestors who provided this outstanding musical instrument as we attempt to live into our musical heritage and progress into our future.