Service Music

The music used in Bathurst United Church services includes an eclectic mix of traditional hymns and contemporary songs from diverse sources. We use the United Church Hymnbook, Voices United, as well as the supplement, More Voices. We also sing hymns from other hymnals and we use selections from what we call our “Bathurst Songbook” – songs people have learned at conferences or other worship services.

Bathurst folks prefer inclusive, non-militaristic, non-hierarchical texts. Worshippers have been known to change the words to a hymn on the spot! Still we do try not to destroy beautiful poetry in the name of political correctness!



Several years ago, various congregation members identified individual hymns which they loved but felt the lyrics needed to be changed, and, as a result, two booklets of “inclusivized” hymn texts were written by our Music Director, Bev Lewis. Here is a sampling from those volumes.

These are two very traditional hymns, particular favourites of some of the older congregation members, which were re-worded so that we could sing the familiar tune without using the original militaristic language. The first is to the same tune as Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord (tune: Vision). 

In our work and through our worship, at our meals and in our play, We will join our hands together, going forth as one today, All God’s children are connected: no more “we” and no more “they”! We feel the love of God. The second is to the same tune as Onward, Christian Soldiers (tune: St. Gertrude).

A unique feature of Bathurst is that we have built a small repertoire of two-, three- and four-part rounds that the congregation sometimes sings in services, such as Dona Nobis Pacem, By the Waters of Babylon, Shalom Chaverim, O Give Thanks Unto the Lord, Holy Spirit, Fill Me and Come, Shekinah, Come. Sometimes, the music we sing during worship services at Bathurst emerges out of our congregational life together.

Holy Spirit, Fill Me is based on a round that a visitor taught us many years ago at one of our weekend retreats. Our minister at the time, Frances Combs, loved the melody but not the original words, so she wrote the words we use. Cheryl Curtis, who was on a student placement with Bathurst at the time (from the Centre for Christian Studies), suggested we use the song as a call to prayer. Come, Shekinah, Come is a three-part round that was composed by a Bathurst member, Shirley Endicott Small, in the early 1990s.

We also occasionally sing action songs and we sometimes even break out the rhythm band instruments and drums for our more lively songs, so that everyone can make a joyful noise! Bathurst service music is often drawn from various cultures. We love to sing African songs such as Thuma Mina and Siyahamba.  We also sometimes sing music from other faith traditions as well as secular music

Small but Mighty

That is how our Music Director describes the Bathurst Choir.

Bev Lewis | Music Director

Holy Spirit, Fill Me

Holy Spirit fill me,
Quicken Life within me,
Renew me.

Holy Spirit fill me,
Strengthen Faith within me,
Renew me.

Holy Spirit fill me,
Nourish Hope within me,
Renew me.

Holy Spirit fill me,
Warm the Love within me,
Renew me.

Holy Spirit fill me,
Quicken Life within me,
Renew me.

Come Shekenah, Come

Come, Shekenah, Come,
Make our home in each other,
Come Shekenah Come

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord

We’re brothers and we’re sisters in God’s holy

As we care for those in need and as we act collectively,

And as we embrace each other, showing hospitality,

We feel the love of God.


God, whose spirit lives within us,

God, whose presence dwells among us,

God, whose grace and peace unites us

In one community.

Onward, Christian Soldiers

Let us now remember those who died for peace,

Fervently in hopes that war and strife might cease.

Make their dreams reality; end the shows of might;

Brothers, sisters, stand together; all the world unite!


Those who work for freedom,

Those who are oppressed,

Those who act for justice,

With God’s grace, are blessed.


In a world of tumult, selfishness and greed,

All the poor who labour, struggling to be freed:

Christ would have us help them, those who have been wronged,

Changing swords to ploughshares and turning weak to strong!

Thuma Mina

by Frances Combs & Shirley Endicott Small | Bathurst Music


Choir and Instrumental Music

Once upon a time, like many churches in Canada, especially between the 1940s and the 1960s, Bathurst United Church boasted a large, active choir, that rehearsed and sang regularly in church services and frequently performed concerts and took part in congregational events.

For much of that time, our Organist and Choir Director was Lawrence Goudge. This was back in the old church building on Lennox Street. The choir at Bathurst today is relatively small but vibrant.


Even though the choir is not auditioned, the dedicated singers are able to perform challenging four-part SATB compositions (often with divisi) and have maintained a fairly high level of choral competency over the years. The choir leads the annual Carol Service every December. Members sing or have sung in many outside choirs including Annex Singers, Canadian Opera Children’s Chorus, Jubilate Singers, North Toronto Women’s Chamber Choir and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and VOCA Choir (formerly East York Choir).

When the choir is preparing to sing in an upcoming service, rehearsals take place on Sunday afternoons 1:00-2:00 pm in the chapel, after the congregational refreshment time and discussion. Rehearsals are informal and usually full of laughter. If sight-reading music is an issue for anyone…..not a problem! Everyone is always happy to go over individual lines of music if needed. If you are interested in singing with us, please contact Bev Lewis at 416-921-4967.

We also have a number of instrumentalists who are members of the choir or congregation who play for us occasionally. For many years, our principal flautist for the Carol Service has been the very talented Cathy Combs. We formed a small recorder consort in 2010 and, in recent years, we have regularly had members of the choir and/or church playing instruments at the Carol Service including: violin, cello, flutes, English horn, clarinet, guitars, ukulele and even tin whistle!

Bathurst United Church acquired a brand new Boston Studio piano (made by Steinway) in 2010 which has greatly enhanced music at Bathurst.

Our Music Director is Beverly Lewis. She has been with us, off and on, since the early 1980s. Bev holds B. Mus. and B. Ed. degrees from Mount Allison University. She plays chamber music on a regular basis with oboist Donald Boere. Bev is also a published composer (Alfred Music & Oceanna Music) of vocal, woodwind, choral & piano music. Her compositions have been performed in Canada, the US, England, France, Sweden, Austria and Italy.

In 2006, her oboe piece, He Sits, Spinning, was broadcast on CBC Radio. Bev has won several awards (Amadeus Choir Carol competition & Toronto Arts Council) and her pieces have been recorded by various musicians. She currently teaches piano at the University Settlement Music and Arts School and is a freelance accompanist. She is also the Supervisor of Examinations for the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto.

Here is a list of some of the choral music that is part of the Bathurst Choir’s standard repertoire:
Cantique de Jean Racine by Gabriel Fauré
Balulalow by Peter Tiefenbach 
The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee by Jean Berger
Hilariter (German music from the 1623)
If Ye Love me by Thomas Tallis
In Remembrance from Requiem by Eleanor Daley 
Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen
Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One by Healey Willan 
Riu, Riu, Chiu (Anonymous)
Soon and Very Soon by Andrae Crouch
This is the Record of John by Orlando Gibbons
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day by John Gardner
Who is at My Window, Who? by Welford Russell
The Choir loves and often sings chorales by Johann Sebastian Bach. Here are a few of our favourites:
Brich an o schönes morgenlicht (Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light)
Christ lag in Todesbanden (Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands)
Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier (I Stand Beside Thy Cradle Here)
The Choir often sings spirituals, both new and traditional, such as:
The Angel Rolled the Stone Away
Down By the Riverside
Go and Tell Mary and Martha
Hush! Somebody’s Callin’ My Name
I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me
Keep Your Lamps!
Over My Head
Same Train
This Little Light of Mine
Wade in the Water
The Choir has also had occasion to perform compositions and/or arrangements by members. These have included:
Did It Snow in Bethlehem?
A Dusty Manger
Or Ever the Silver Cord

~ by Lawrence Goudge 

Hodie Christus natus est
Niño Lindo
Wade in the Water

~ by Beverly Lewis