Thursday, 7 May 2015

Music for First Communion

Whether you are teaching a 2nd Class or preparing the school choir for the ceremony, First Communion can be a stressful event to organise, especially if it is your first time. You can be unsure of which songs to choose, when they should be sang, where to get backing tracks and how much children should be involved in the mass. For that reason, here are some tips for those of you preparing for First Communion in your school.

1. Hymns:
Below is a list of the hymns we used in my school's First Communion mass this year. Most of the hymns are easy to find on various Alive-O C.D.s, others I have included links for: 
  • Entrance Hymn: This is the Day (Alive-O song played on piano)
  • Responsorial Psalm: He Knows My Name (instrumental and full song)/My Shepherd is the Lord (Alive-O song played on the piano). These are both suitable for soloists to sing from the alter, with the choir joining in on the chorus.
  • Offertory Procession Instrumental: Inis Oírr or Blind Mary.
  • Song after Offertory Procession: We Come to You Lord Jesus (Alive-O song played on piano).
  • Communion Hymns: As I Kneel Before You (full song and instrumental), The Cloud's Veil (Alive-O song played on the piano with a soloist singing the verses). 
  • Recessional Hymn: Christ Be Our Light (Alive-O song played on the piano). 
You can download the hymn sheet I used with my choir here.
2. Get the children involved as much as possible: 
  • This year, some of our 6th Class students accompanied the choir on the organ, while another played guitar. In order to make this more manageable for them, you can reduce the amount of chords required by the sheet music (guitar) or get them to play bass chords on the piano as simple two finger (thumb and little finger) octave chords.
  • Other children played tin whistle/fiddle/etc. during instrumentals for the Offertory Procession and Communion itself. If you are looking for more detail on using tin whistles in a mass, check out my post on Tin Whistle Tunes Suitable For School Masses.  
3. As far as making sure everything goes smoothly on the day: 
  • Make a list of things you need to bring to the church: Spare piano music (stapled in the correct order), spare tin whistles and notes, a computer and charger, speakers, cables, mics and stands, song sheets, a mass booklet, music stand, an extension lead, etc.
  • Have a back up plan if you are using a computer to play music, just in case. I like to get some children to learn some of the tunes on the tin whistle (if possible) and have some sort of instrument available to give you a starting note if you are left to sing unaccompanied!
  • Check the sound levels of instruments/speakers/mics from different areas of the church before you start.
  • Don't forget to tune instruments.
  • Make a list of the order of songs during the mass for you to glance briefly at during the ceremony.
Best of luck with your preparations!


  1. Síle Ní Chinnéide9 May 2015 at 15:18

    Would you suggest including the priest in choosing songs? The local priest at my school can be very demanding, and I think it might be easier to just tell him what songs we're going to play??

  2. You should definitely run the songs by your priest once you have chosen them, especially if you haven't sung them before at a school mass. Most of these songs are either traditional hymns or are from the Alive-O programme, so your priest should have no problem with them. He might however request that you sing during some other parts of the mass (e.g. the Gospel of Acclamation or the Mystery of Faith) or that you limit your singing so that the mass doesn't run over time. He may also have a preference for a specific song during the mass. At the end of the day however, you are the one who will have to teach the songs, so it is important to keep them simple and to pick songs you feel comfortable with. I hope this is helpful! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!

  3. I am looking for the piano music for Circle of Friends but can't find it anywhere. Do you have any links to where I can buy it?

    1. I used the sheet music included in the Alive O 4 Teachers' Manual (Veritas Publications). Unfortunately they are not selling this book anymore as they have introduced the new Grow in Love programme. You can however still buy this book from Also if you google search the song name lots of other options come up for purchasing the song's proper sheet music (with piano accompanyment).