Worship and Music

Worship and Music

Worship is the central gathering point for life and work at St. James.  As we gather we recall the classic elements of Christian gathering since the earliest times of the Church:

 Confession and Absolution ● Praise ● Reading of Sacred Texts from Hebrew and Christian Scripture ● Confession of Faith ● Prayers of the Community ● Sharing of Christ’s Peace ● The Holy Meal (Communion) ● Sending into the World ●

The two great “peaks” of the worship experience are Word and Sacrament.  The Sunday preaching texts are part of a three-year cycle of readings.  Sermon, hymnody, choral and instrumental music reflect the thematic of these texts; Music Ministry is a vital part of worship and life at St. James.

Familiarity with worship forms comes from regular participation in the Sunday Assembly – it is, we are NOT ashamed to say, acquired behavior!!!  Worship bulletins with texts, hymn and psalm notes, the “new” red hymnal (Evangelical Lutheran Worship) — and  friendly help from your neighbor in the pew and the ushers will help you if you are a newcomer.  Be patient – you may help us to discover elements of music and text we hadn’t noticed!

The Sunday liturgy is an opportunity not only to gather together as a community of faith, but to open our doors to everyone, sharing God’s love with all. We hope you will join us for worship, sing with us in the choir, or join our handbell choir!


Contact the Church Office at 503-227-2439, for more information. Find Driving and Parking Directions here.


Worship Service Schedule






Sunday Morning Worship with Holy Communion

Every Sunday, 9:30am

Holy Communion is celebrated at each Sunday liturgy.  Refreshments and community time follow the worship service.  Childcare available from 9:15am-12:15pm.


Midweek Eucharist

Every Wednesday 12:00 Noon

A thirty-minute liturgy of Holy Communion takes place in the intimate setting of the Pioneer Chapel. This service provides an opportunity for communal prayer, a brief sermon and reflection. Scriptures may be used from the Daily Lectionary or may reflect the Calendar of Saints and Commemorations available to the wider Christian community.


Jazz Vespers

Sunday, Aug. 19th, 5-6:00pm

This 45 minute jazz musical setting of the Evening Prayer liturgy is held once a month. Professional jazz musicians and vocalists lead this reflective service with scriptural reading, psalms, hymns, and prayer. Preludes and postludes from the broad jazz repertoire precede and follow the service. Families and children are welcome!

Click below to listen to The Lord’s Prayer sung during the Jazz Vespers.


Bach Cantata Vespers

Seasonal Sundays for 2017-2018 season, 5-6:00pm

The Bach Cantata Vespers Services at St. James are unique to Portland as they present Bach’s cantatas in the historical context for which they were created. Presented with the same readings and spiritual milieu that inspired Bach to compose his cantatas, listeners are enriched in hearing Bach’s works in their sacred context. Portland’s finest instrumentalists, vocal soloists, and organists join with the St. James Bach Choir in the Vespers now in its 13th season and drawing over 200 persons to each evening service. Newly commissioned motets by contemporary American composers are another feature of the event, bridging the old and the new.


Music Ministry



Joe Pettit, St. James’ New Minister of Music (effective Sept. 1st)

At St. James’ July Council Meeting Kathleen McDonald, Chair of the Music Search Committee presented candidate Joe Pettit to Council for approval to hire as the new Minister of Music. Council approved, and Joe officially became our newest leader at St. James. Joe was selected from 30 candidates across the United States. Through each of the culling processes over the past five months, Joe consistently rose to the top of each list. The reasons for his status reflected the mission of Minster of Music more closely than all other candidates. In June Joe spent two days meeting and interviewing with the Committee, and rehearsing with our choir. Many of you may have seen Joe when he conducted music worship on Sunday, June 17th.

Joe has a Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance and Church Music from PLU. He has advanced studies in early music performance, accompanying and coaching from the Academie voor Oude Muziek, Amsterdam, Netherlands. He has a deep background in the music of Bach and a long list of choral recordings. Joe currently lives in Federal Way, Washington, but will be moving to Portland in the next few weeks. He will begin his ministry on September 1st.

We asked Joe what he most looks forward to at St. James. His enthusiastic response was: “Hearing all of you sing on Sunday mornings! And then I’m going to hit the ground running with the choir — there is so much excellent music to sing with laughter along the way. I’m also planning a half hour organ recital (sometimes with guest musicians) every Friday at 12:15pm. I want music and worship and joy to leak through the stones of the church and flood the streets of downtown! Won’t you join me?”



St. James Choir

The St. James Choir continues a long and distinguished congregational tradition of liturgical and concert singing. Their repertoire includes a wide range of music from composers of the Renaissance and Reformation periods to contemporary works by local and nationally-known composers, such as Timothy Nickel, Frank Ferko, and others. Members rehearse every Thursday evening from 7:30-9:15pm during the program year (September through early June). Most choir members also participate in the Bach Cantata Vespers Services. People of all ages are invited to sing with us!


St. James Handbell Choir

HandbellsThe St. James Handbell Choir contributes to Sunday morning and occasional liturgies throughout the year. Music will be selected based on the number of ringers who volunteer! No prior experience with bells is required; just a willingness to learn and make music in a team setting!


St. James Pipe Organ

The three manual Pipe Organ incorporates some of the ranks from the original 1908 Estey tracker pipe organ. Originally only 9 ranks, this instrument was electrified and reconditioned in 1949, then re-built and expanded in 1989 by Portland organ builder Richard Bond to include 32 ranks with three manuals and pedal. Five original Estey ranks were retained in the Antiphonal division in its former chamber on the main floor. The new Great and Swell were installed in the rear balcony gallery. Read about the Architectural History of St. James.