On the last Sunday of June in 2021, the Music Ministry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church offered a public concert in celebration of “God’s blessings of freedom and liberty.” The program included choral works that focused on the unique contributions of the American experience in the understanding that “self-determination and unalienable rights are a birthright from God.” The response from the community was overwhelming.

On Sunday afternoon, June 25, at 4:00 PM, the St. Paul Ringers handbell ensemble and the St. Paul Men’s Choir will perform a one-hour concert celebration of rousing music from American history. The performance will be in the nave of the historic church at 416 SE Grand Avenue in Lee’s Summit. Admission is free and the public is invited. The Friends of Music at St. Paul’s will host a wine and cookie reception following the performance.

The centerpiece of the program will be Randall Thompson’s cantata “The Testament of Freedom,” for men’s chorus. The words of the 18-minute choral work are by Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States. The stirring words are quotations from “A Summary View of the Rights of British America” in 1774, “Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking Up Arms” in 1775, and a September 12, 1821 letter to his friend and fellow Founding Father John Adams. The piece was written and premiered in 1943 and was inspirational at a critical turning point in World War II.

The St. Paul Men’s Choir will also sing sacred selections from early America, including beloved hymns, “Rise Up, O Men of God,” “Shall We Gather at the River,” “The Morning Trumpet,” and “Come, Ye Disconsolate.” The St. Paul Men’s Choir has become a regular participant in the Choral Eucharist liturgies of St. Paul’s Church.

The choir will be conducted in the performance by Jamea J. Sale, PhD, associate music director of the church. Dr. Sale came to the music staff of St. Paul’s in early 2022. She holds degrees from Kansas State University and the University of Kansas, and serves as the Director of the Institute for Healthy Singing and Voice Research, a nation-wide organization that advocates a science-based approach to healthy singing concepts for vocalists and public speakers of all ages. Dr. Sale led a team from the institute to Kenya in March 2023 to provide educational resources and to promote healthy singing concepts.

St. Paul Ringers will perform handbell arrangements of patriotic selections, including familiar songs of America, early American hymns and a selection from the tradition of native Americans. Led by Amy Chinnery-Valmassei for over 20 years, St. Paul Ringers is one of the most visible expressions of the music ministry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in the wider community. St. Paul Ringers is heard regularly at the Lee’s Summit Community Thanksgiving Celebration, the annual Memorial Day Celebration at Lake Lotawana, and the Festival of Lights each Christmas season at Powell Gardens. The handbell ensemble participates regularly in the worship services of the St. Paul’s Church.

For information regarding the June 25 performance, contact the church at 816-524-3651 or email music@stpaulsls.org.