Music expresses the essence of our community. The seminary is international and multicultural, representing diverse Christian traditions. Our liturgical music is rooted in a Reformed appreciation of communal singing of psalms and hymns. From this center we explore the rich heritages of our global and ecumenical community.
Martin Tel, director of music
Martin Tel is the C.F. Seabrook Director of Music at Princeton Seminary, a post he has held at Princeton Seminary since 1996. He conducts three choirs, teaches courses in church music, and administers the music for the daily seminary worship services. He holds degrees from Dordt College (music, Dutch), the University of Notre Dame (organ literature), Calvin Theological Seminary (Christian education), and the University of Kansas (church music). As a Fulbright Scholar he conducted research in the Netherlands at the Institute for Liturgical Studies at the University of Groningen and studied organ literature and design at the Sweelinck Conservatory of Amsterdam. He is currently serving on a bi-denominational hymnal committee for the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America. With his wife, Sharilyn, he is raising three children in Princeton.
Michael Gittens, interim choral assistant
Rachel Barker, bell choir director
All seminary students, as well as faculty, staff, and spouses, are invited and encouraged to join the seminary’s choral program. The choirs are directed by Martin Tel.
The CHAPEL CHOIR is the core choral ensemble at the seminary. The choir rehearses on Tuesday evenings beginning at 6:30. The length of rehearsal varies from one to two hours. The choir will focus on the function and creative use of the hymnal, the psalter (metrical and responsorial), global music and service music. In addition to weekly leadership in chapel worship, the Chapel Choir participates in various concerts throughout the year. Students may earn academic credit for their participation in this ensemble.
SEMINARY SINGERS is an auditioned ensemble (up to 20 members) which rehearses on Tuesday evenings at the conclusion of Chapel Choir rehearsal. Rehearsals begin with Chapel Choir at 6:30 and will end by 8:40. This ensemble provides additional musical leadership in chapel worship. It also prepares more complex literature in preparation for special concerts and events. Placement in this ensemble will be determined by musicianship exhibited in the choral audition, prior choral involvement at the seminary, and proximity to graduation.
Approximately 10 times in the course the academic year, the PRINCETON SEMINARY TOURING CHOIR will travel off campus to sing for church worship services and other gatherings. Repertoire and membership for this choir will be drawn from the Seminary Singers. This ensemble is a “stipend choir” of professional quality, however, interested persons should not approach this as a mere employment opportunity. The choir is a vital ministry of Princeton Seminary. For more information about the ministry of the touring choir, click here.
Auditions for the choral ensembles are held at the start of the academic year. Stop by Scheide Hall to sign-up for an audition/placement time. All new and returning students must sing for Martin Tel at an audition/placement prior to being a part of the choir.
In addition to the ensembles directed by Martin Tel, students regularly initiate and conduct their own ensembles. In the past we have had ensembles devoted to dance, gospel music, Praise & Worship music, handbells, and other instruments. The chapel office supports the work of these groups and regularly engages their leadership in our daily worship service.
Music in Worship
The Handbell Choir is comprised of members of both the Princeton Seminary and Princeton University communities. Rehearsals take place weekly in Miller Chapel.
The Well is a contemporary worship service led by the Theological Student Fellowship (TSF) weekly in the Gambrell Room.
If you are interested in any of the above groups, or would like to offer leadership for another ensemble, contact the chapel office.
If you dance or play a musical instrument and would like to participate in worship, contact Martin Tel and let him know of your interest.
The Chapel owns pew copies of the following hymnals: Psalms for All Seasons (Faith Alive Christian Resources), The Presbyterian Hymnal (Westminster/John Knox Press), and the African American Heritage Hymnal (GIA Publications, Inc.). Congregational copies of Sing! A New Creation (Faith Alive Christian Resources) are available if needed though it is no longer in the pews. We also have braille copies of Sing! and The Presbyterian Hymnal which can be used upon request. We are hoping to have braille copies of the other two hymnals in the near future.
If you are planning a worship service (either in Miller Chapel or elsewhere on campus) and would like to use music that is not published in one of the hymnals available in Miller Chapel, please be aware that copyright permission is needed to reproduce the music or lyrics in a bulletin or song sheet. The Chapel owns copyright licenses from CCLI.com and OneLicense.net. Visit these sites to see if your song falls within one of our licenses. If not, permission must be granted from the publisher, and we are willing to assist in seeking the necessary permissions for your service.