Our Music Director, David Larstein, has been sharing his musical talents with the La Selva Beach Community Church for over 15 years. He is an accomplished pianist, excels at keyboards, and has composed a treasure trove of original scores to enliven Sunday Morning worship services and special events. When not playing in front of the church, David is practicing behind the scenes with the church choir.

On Sunday mornings, our choir can be heard mixing it up, singing everything from serene hymns to Blues and Gospel. Interested in sharing your musical talents? We love hearing from guest vocalists and musicians. And new choir members are always welcome. You are invited to participate from September through June or just for the holiday seasons. Choir practice is held in the sanctuary Wednesday nights, from 7-8:30 and Sunday mornings at 9:00. Shower singers are welcome!

Brighter Days Ahead

In the video below, we are blessed with the beautiful voice and talent of Danielle Crook, who grew up in our church. The video quality does not do justice to her gifts, but it gives you a glimpse. The inspiring lyrics and music were composed by David.

A Little History about Hymns

The tradition of hymnody dates back about 2500 years to the Vedas in India, the Egyptian religion of the Pharaohs, and the Psalms of David. Originally, hymns were conceived to be prayers to God. Gregorian chant came from ancient Jewish, Greek and Roman chants usually sung by choirs, symbolizing angels singing the music of the spheres. Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation equalized the focus so that the congregation could sing to God, and this led to hymns that were not just prayers, but pledges, affirmations, testimonies, and confessions as well.

There was one rule of hymn writing that became part of all folk songs (and later most commercial music). One note to one syllable. The one note per syllable rule equaled humility and fidelity. It conveyed simplicity of appearance, behavior, and lifestyle; an emphasis on honesty and integrity; and a focus on eternal values and behaviors. Hymns conveyed faithfulness–nothing fancy. They were the music of the people. Thus, the greatest hymn tune ever written, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, is as simple as a nursery rhyme. Literally anyone can sing it immediately.

The hymn tradition and congregational singing stands in contrast with the tradition
of choral singing. The choral tradition uses music which is often more complex than simple church hymns. It was the music of professional composers. The Christian tradition includes music for everyone, from the music of heaven to the music of the people.

Our UCC tradition starts in England with Isaac Watts and his Amazing Grace, and follows the thread to America and Charles Wesley, who’s hymns led to the development of a new style of music–the gospel song, which were songs with choruses. Added to that was the vast song literature of the negro spiritual, and the result was a body of music that keeps growing and changing while staying rooted in the tradition of community singing.

David affirms that the best of the old songs–the tried and true–whether hymns, gospel or spirituals, are still worth singing because the words and music contain “eternals”–musical and lyrical elements that never grow tired or stale.