Music is an Important Part of Our Community
The First Baptist Church of Haddonfield, New Jersey, has always maintained a high level of music, employing people through the years with fine musicianship. The instruments in our sanctuary are also an indication of its emphasis on the important role of music in our church. We boast a splendid Wicks pipe organ, installed in 1971, with 22 ranks of pipes. A wonderful Petrof grand piano was added to our chancel in 2010. One of our congregants is a fine harpist, we have a group of brass players who rehearse in our social hall regularly and present music from time to time, and we have several skilled keyboard artists who combine for duets using the piano and organ, or one piano- four hands. Our church presents a concert series of a variety of styles and makeup, with about 6-8 concerts a year, all high quality, many of them attracting almost a full house. We are the home to the Philadelphia Handbell Ensemble, one of Philadelphia’s premier handbell groups. We are active participants in the Haddonfield Church Musicians, meeting regularly to plan church community activities in Haddonfield.
This group meets to rehearse one night a week, Thursday, 7:45 – 9:15. The choir presents an introit and an anthem, with choices of music from many different genres, each Sunday morning, September through mid-June. Many times this anthem will be accompanied by organ or piano, other times enhanced with brass, woodwinds, strings, harp, or handbells, and sometimes is unaccompanied. During seasons of high celebration such as Christmas and Easter, the music of this ensemble is stepped up to enrich the experience of congregants and choir members.
This choir is much more than a skilled vocal ensemble. We are a family of believers – young and not as young, single and married – that shares one another’s joys and sorrows. Every rehearsal is concluded with an open prayer time. Each month’s birthdays are celebrated with cake and other goodies. There are no auditions, and while music skills are appreciated, all singers are welcome. Much learning takes place and the musicianship of individuals grows continuously.
Each year presents opportunities for the Chancel Choir to join members of the other adult choirs in Haddonfield such as during the Thanksgiving Eve service and in the Community Chorale and Hymn Festival held yearly in early March.
A regular choir of singers has existed in our church almost from the beginning two centuries ago, with virtually no gaps. It is a rich part of the church’s heritage for which we praise the Lord and that we are grateful to claim and maintain. God makes it clear in the Psalms and elsewhere in the scriptures that He is pleased with the singing of His followers.
The Carol Choir is a group of children K- Jr. High School that meets to rehearse every Sunday following the worship service, 12:15 – 1:00, and presents an anthem once a month during Sunday morning worship. Our rehearsals consist of learning new songs of various kinds, many classical as well as contemporary. Many of the anthems contain part singing. This group presents concerts in Assisted Living Units as well as enjoying times of fellowship in homes throughout the year. Again, a children’s choir has been a part of our congregation for many generations, and quite a few of our present congregation sang in a children’s choir at this church in their youth.
This group of 12-14 handbell ringers meets each Thursday evening, 6:45 – 7:45 to rehearse, presenting an anthem once a month in the morning worship service. Along with this anthem, this choir usually plays during one of the hymns in the service, with glorious obligatos and original enhancements. The Carillon Ringers perform a full concert each year in June at Rohrer Towers Assisted Living.
Doctor David Shockey,
Director of Chancel Choir
David M. Shockey is an adjunct faculty member (voice) in the School of Music at Cairn University. Now semi-retired – after a 43-year career in education (35 at Cairn University) – he conducted the University Chorale and the University Chamber Singers. Duties also included teaching diction (French, German, Italian, Latin and English), Vocal Literature, Choral Literature, Choral Conducting, Vocal Pedagogy, Class Voice and music theory. At present, he teaches private voice at Cairn University. He earned a B.S. in Music education from Roberts Wesleyan College, a M.M. in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music and a D.M.A. in Vocal Performance from The Ohio State University. In February 1996 he was guest conductor of the Pennsylvania District 11 High School Choir, held at Neshaminy High School. That summer he sang the lead role in multiple performances of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” for the Rome Festival Association in Rome, Italy. In March 2018 he was guest conductor of the Bucks County Music Educators Association High School Choral Festival, held at William Tennent High School. He serves as an adjudicator at multiple venues in the field of choral and vocal music. Since 1977 he has been associated with the Csehy Summer School of Music – first as a faculty member, now as Chairman of the Board. With his wife, he is co-director of music at the First Baptist Church of Haddonfield, New Jersey.
Organist and Director of Carol Choir
A native of Ontario, Canada, Eleanor holds degrees from Roberts Wesleyan College, the Royal Conservatory of Toronto, and the University of Toronto. She has been a church organist for fifty years and taught piano for the same, most notably at the Csehy Summer School of Music and at Cairn University as part-time faculty. She has performed as a pianist and as organist throughout the northeast, recently soloing with the Newtown Chamber Orchestra, then with the Cairn University Orchestra, in Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Tympani, and String Orchestra. She has accompanied her husband, David in bi-annual faculty recitals over their forty-six years of marriage. The Shockeys have four married children and 14 grandchildren.
Director of Handbells
Bob Gardner became a member of the First Baptist Church over fifty years ago. He has been active in the music ministry here since childhood. His introduction to handbells in Junior High Bell Choir sparked an interest that developed into a calling. In addition to his musical experience in the local communities as a pianist, organist, and harpist, Bob rings with the Philadelphia Handbell Ensemble.