Great Sacred Music

Photo of Cambridge Singers by Nick Rutter

Every Sunday morning, The Classical Station offers you over 4 and a half hours of inspiring sacred choral and organ music drawn from the traditions of many faiths. Pastor Alvin Rueter began broadcasting Sing for Joy in 1954. The program now with host Pastor Bruce Benson airs at 7:30 a.m. followed by Great Sacred Music with Rob Kennedy at 8:00 a.m. Eastern.

Sing for Joy

Sunday mornings at 7:30 a.m. Eastern

Sing for Joy features choral music from around the world. Produced by St. Olaf College, the program has a simple mission: to explore the weekly themes of Christian worship by providing the best in sacred choral music and thoughtful commentary. The musical performances eloquently “do the talking,” while the concise remarks from host Pastor Bruce Benson illuminate the meaning of the texts.

Great Sacred Music

Sunday mornings from 8:00 a.m. until 12 noon Eastern

We get your Sunday morning off to a gentle start in Hour 1 with a variety of shorter choral and organ works from the Renaissance through the 20th century. Then a Bach cantata airs at approximately 9:00 a.m.  A major choral work follows. A regular feature of the program is a commentary offered by a distinguished church musician or member of the clergy. Longer, major choral works such as oratorios, masses, and requiems air during hours 3 and 4. You can find links to detailed program notes in the schedule below.

Rob Kennedy, a retired organist, choir trainer, composer, and teacher, programs and hosts Great Sacred Music. If you would like to receive our weekly e-newsletter with program notes, use the form below to be added to our mailing list. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Email Rob.

Winter 2021-2022

You can read about the Bach cantatas and each Sunday’s featured works by clicking on the links below. Find the detailed playlist for this week’s program by clicking on the date.  Listen to commentaries by clicking on the names of our distinguished guest commentators. When you are unable to listen to the program in real-time, you can listen to the music for each Sunday on Spotify.

December 5
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 70
Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Canticum in Nativitatem Domini
Commentary: The Reverend Mindy Douglas
Playlist on Spotify

December 12
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 141
Johann Sebastian Bach: Magnificat BWV 243

December 19
George Frederic Handel: Messiah

December 26
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 248, Part 2
Hector Berlioz: L’Enfance du Christ

January 2
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 248/5
George Frederic Handel: Dettingen Te Deum

January 9
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 154
Michaelangelo Falvetti: Nabucco

January 16
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 3
Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla: Missa Ego Flos Campi

January 23
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 156
Jan Ladislav Dussek: Messe Solemnelle

January 30
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 14
Josef Haydn: Missa Solemnis

February 6
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 83
Franz Liszt: Missa Choralis

February 13
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 84
George Frederic Handel: Gideon

February 20
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 181
Giovnni Pierluigi da Palestrina: Missa Benedicta es

February 27
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 22
Joseph Jongen: Messe en L’Honneur du Saint-Sacrement

Fall 2021

September 5
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 78
Darius Milhaud: Sacred Service
Commentary: Rabbi Eric Solomon
Playlist on Spotify

September 12
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 51
Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Messe de Monsieur de Mauroy
Commentary: The Reverend Bob Innskeep
Playlist on Spotify

September 19
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 95
George Frederick Handel: Saul
Commentary: The Reverend Robin Arcus
Playlist on Spotify

September 26
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 19
Sir Michael Tippett: A Child of Our Time
Commentary: Dr. Nicolas Capozzoli
Playlist on Spotify

October 3
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 96
Dame Ethel Smyth: Mass in D
Commentary: David Jernigan
Playlist on Spotify

October 10
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 48
George Frederick Handel: Athalia
Commentary: Dr. Michael Accurso
Playlist on Spotify

October 17
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 49
Felix Mendelssohn: Lauda Sion
Commentary: Benedict Sheehan
Playlist on Spotify

October 24
Fall Membership Drive
Listener Favorites

October 31
Fall Membership Drive
Listener Favorites

November 7
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 163
Alexander Kastalsky: An Orthodox Christian Requiem
Commentary: Peter Richard Conte
Playlist on Spotify

November 14
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 60
Herbert Howells: Requiem
Commentary: Sir Stephen Cleobury
Playlist on Spotify

November 21
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 116
Arthur Sullivan: Te Deum
Commentary: William Weisser
Playlist on Spotify

November 28
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 36
Carols and Hymns for Advent
Commentary: Jeremy Thompson
Playlist on Spotify


Great Sacred Music is made possible by our listeners and the following people and organizations:

  • All Saints Anglican Church, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • The Chapel of the Cross, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • First Presbyterian Church, Durham, North Carolina
  • The Kirk of Kildare, Cary, North Carolina
  • University Presbyterian Church, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Dr. & Mrs. Harold Chapman, Macon, Georgia
  • David Crabtree, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Ms. Ethel Girvin, Timberlake, North Carolina
  • Dr. Alfred Goshaw, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Dr. Jerry Grise, Cary, North Carolina
  • Mrs. Carole Keeler, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • The Rev. David Livingstone James, Cary, North Carolina
  • James H. Lazenby, Fearrington Village, North Carolina
  • William Marley, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Thomas Nutt-Powell, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Blaine Hall Paxton, Fearrington Village, North Carolina
  • William Raper of Trinity Concepts, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Carter Reed, Montgomery, Alabama
  • Claude and Sarah Snow, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

If you or your organization would like to be a patron of Great Sacred Music, e-mail Rob Kennedy

Summer 2021

June 6
J.S. Bach: O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort, BWV 20
Franz Schubert: Mass in E-flat
Commentary: The Right Reverend Samuel Rodman
Playlist on Spotify

June 13
J.S. Bach: Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein, BWV 2
Sir Edward Elgar: The Kingdom
Commentary: Dr. Nathan Leaf
Playlist on Spotify

June 20
J.S. Bach: Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21
Phillippe De Monte: Missa la Dolce Vista
Commentary: Robert Unger
Playlist on Spotify

June 27
J.S. Bach: Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe, BWV 185
Ludwig van Beethoven: Mass in C
Commentary: The Very Reverend Amy McCreath
Playlist on Spotify

July 4
J.S. Bach: Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden, BWV 88
Horatio Parker: Hora Novissima
Commentary: Dr. Zebulon Highben
Playlist on Spotify

July 11
J.S. Bach: Es ist das Heil uns kommen her, BWV 9
Amy Beach: Grand Mass in E flat
Commentary: Daniel Gawthrop
Playlist on Spotify

July 18
J.S. Bach: Was willst du dich betrüben, BWV 107
Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber: Requiem à 15 in A Major
Commentary: David Chalmers
Playlist on Spotify

July 25
J.S. Bach: Wo Gott derr Herr nicht bei uns hält, BWV 178
J.S. Bach: The Passion According To Saint John, BWV 245
Commentary: Christopher Jacobson
Playlist on Spotify

August 1
J.S. Bach: Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht, BWV 105
Louis Vierne: Messe Solennelle
Commentary: Dan Locklair
Playlist on Spotify

August 8
J.S. Bach: Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgendein Schmerz sei, BWV 46
Josquin Des Prez: Missa L’Homme Armé
Commentary: Dr. Philip Cave
Playlist on Spotify

August 15
J.S. Bach: Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut, BWV 199
Antonio Salieri: La Passione di Gesù Cristo
Commentary: The Reverend Dr. Richard Pfaff
Playlist on Spotify

August 22
J.S. Bach: Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren, BWV 137
Jules Massenet: Ève
Commentary: Dr. John Shelton Reed
Playlist on Spotify

August 29
J.S. Bach: Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, Lieben, BWV 77
Arthur Honegger: Le Roi David
Commentary: Tom Heaton
Playlist on Spotify

Spring 2021

March 7
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 54
George Frederic Handel: Israel in Egypt

March 14
J.S. Bach: Motet No. 3 BWV 227
Richard Danielpour: The Passion of Yeshua

March 21
Spring Fund Drive

March 28
Spring Fund Drive

April 4
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 31
Hector Berlioz: Te Deum

April 11
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 67
Anton Bruckner: Te Deum

April 18
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 104
Benedict Sheehan: Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

April 25
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 103
George Frederic Handel: Joshua

May 2
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 108
Joseph Rheinberger: Requiem No. 2 in E flat

May 9
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 86
Giacomo Puccini: Messa di Gloria

May 16
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 183
Karl Jenkins: Te Deum

May 23
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 59
Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Te Deum

May 30
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 165
Alessandro Scarlatti: Il maritrio de St. Theodosia

Fall 2020

September 6
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 164
Antonín Dvořák: Saint Ludmilla

September 13
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 17
Ignacio Jerusalem: Mass in G “De Los Ninos”

September 20
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 100
Antonio Vivaldi: Juditha Triumphans

September 27
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 8
John Rutter: Requiem

October 4
J.S. Bach: Cantata BW 148
G.F. Handel: Esther

October 11
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 169
Josef Haydn: Il Ritorno di Tobia

October 18
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 56
Richard Danielpour: Toward a Season of Peace

October 25
Membership Drive
All-Request Great Sacred Music

November 1
Membership Drive
Listener Favorites

November 8
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 115
Louis Spohr: The Last Judgement

November 15
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 139
G.F. Handel: Nabal

November 22
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 26
Oskar Lindberg: Requiem, Opus 21

November 29
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 61
A Procession with Carols for Advent

Summer 2020

June 7
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 68
Francis Poulenc: Gloria

June 14
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 75
César Franck: Les Béatitudes

June 21
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 174
George Frederic Handel: Solomon

June 28
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 135
John Knowles Paine: Saint Peter

July 5
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 24
Franz Josef Haydn: The Creation

July 12
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 93
Felix Mendelssohn: Saint Paul

July 19
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 170
C.P.E. Bach: The Israelites in the Desert

July 26
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 187
Sir Edward Elgar: The Apostles

August 2
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 136
Charles Gounod: Mors et Vita

August 9
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 168
George Frederic Handel: Deborah

August 16
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 101
Emilio de’ Cavalieri: Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo

August 23
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 113
Claudio Monteverdi: Vespers of 1610

August 30
J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 69a
Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Pilgrim’s Progress

Spring 2020

March 1
Bach: Cantata BWV 227
Sowerby: The Throne of God

March 8
Bach: St. Luke Passion BWV 246
Poulenc: Stabat Mater

March 15
Bach: Cantata BWV 54
Haydn: The Seven Last Words of Christ

March 22
Spring Membership Drive

March 29
Spring Membership Drive

April 5
Bach: Cantata BWV 248/5
Boccherini: Stabat Mater

April 12
Bach: Cantata BWV 4
MacMillan: Edinburgh Te Deum

April 19
Bach: Cantata BWV 42
Handel: La Resurrezione

April 26
Bach: Cantata BWV 112
Caplet: Le Miroir de Jesus

May 3
Bach: Cantata BWV 12
Haydn: Paukenmesse

May 10
Bach: Cantata BWV 166
Gawthrop: How Beautiful Upon the Mountains

May 17
Bach: Cantata BWV 17
Lloyd Webber: Requiem

May 24
Bach: Cantata BWV 11
Tyberg: Mass in G

May 31
Bach: Cantata BWV 218
Brahms: A German Requiem