Welcome to First Parish Music Community!

First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington has a lively and enthusiastic music program at the heart of its ministry. Our services feature a variety of musical styles including classical, jazz, ethnic, popular and folk music.  Under the leadership of Music Director Jonathan Colby, over 85 staff, volunteer and guest musicians grace our services annually. We have two concert grand pianos and a historic 1870 Hook organ, which was installed in 1985.

Congregational singing at First Parish helps us bond together in fellowship each week. In addition to our traditional hymnal, First Parish has compiled our own Singing Towards Justice! Songbook, which champions racial and social justice equality.

Our Adult Choir sings most Sundays and presents one to four selections per service. In recent years, music-centered services have highlighted major choral works by Bach, Bernstein, Fauré,Handel and Rutter, and selections by contemporary composers Ysaye Barnwell, Dominick DiOrio, Mark Miller and Robert Cohen.  Local composers Jennifer Kobayashi, Kenneth Seitz and Diane Taraz frequently dedicate original songs and arrangements for special occasions.  A Family Choir option made its debut in 2018.

Vocalists and instrumentalists are an integral part of our Sunday and holiday services, and of annual events such as the Harvest Moon Cafe and Ferry Beach weekend, Community Sings, and lay ministry visits for those who cannot attend services.  Participating groups include a Handbell Choir, C Winds (flute ensemble), Grace Notes, UUlations, as well as soloists, song leaders, youth musicians and others. If you’re interested in joining a choir, instrumental ensemble and/or wish to perform for a service, please email us at music@ firstparish.info.

Covid Reminders Fall 2022

Dear Choir Members,

As winter approaches, the Music Committee would like to remind you of these good health practices. 

    1. Consider getting your Covid boosters (if eligible) & Flu shots. We highly encourage this.
    2. If you are feeling unwell or under the weather, it is advisable to stay home, especially if you have been a close contact or are unsure if they have been. Better to err on the side of caution.
    3. Reminding you of the option to wear or not wear a mask in choir (in keeping with Parish Committee’s policy of mask optional for Sunday Worship).
    4. Sitting with space between your fellow choir members depending on your personal level of comfort. Three feet of space is one consideration, which is roughly one choir chair. 
    5. Choir rehearsals will continue to be limited to one hour.
    6. For Sunday worship, it is ok if you need to take a moment during the service to step out for some fresh air or during congregational hymns if you do not feel comfortable. 
    7. Music Committee continues to require proof of vaccination for Covid for all singers and guest musicians.

Music-Centered Services

Twice per year, we present a music-centered service at First Parish Arlington in which a larger work, or unified group of works, takes the place of some of the spoken elements of our service. These services include extra guest musicians such as professionals, college students, or a collaboration with another church or a youth orchestra.

December Advent services generally take place during on the second and third weeks of Advent.

Fall Music Sundays in November generally focus on a Requiem or another large choral piece of a single composer.

Spring Music Sundays generally take place a month before Easter.

Previous Music Sunday Services under the direction of Music Director Jonathan Colby have featured:


  • Spring (3/31/19) A participatory service of spirituals taught and led by African-American composer Dr. Ysaye Barnwell.
  • Fall (11/10/18, 4pm concert at First Parish) Premiere of Dominick DiOrio’s “Be With Us Now” hymn; Faure Requiem with First Parish and First Unitarian Society, Newton choirs and the Worcester Youth Orchestra (WYO) and other works.
  • 11/11/18 (First Unitarian Society, Newton) Faure Requiem conducted by Anne Watson Born with First Parish and FUSN choirs, WYO and FUSN instrumentalists and organist.



  • Spring (3/12/17 First Parish, 3/19/17 Follen Church, Lexington) Chichester Psalms by Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990.)
  • Fall (11/16/16) Alzheimer Stories (2012) by Robert Cohen (b.1943.)

Spring 2016

  • Spring (1/30/16 Worcester UU Church, 3/13/16 First Parish) Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243 by J.S. Bach (1685-1750)


  • Spring (3/29/15) Song of the Open Road (2008), Mark Miller (b. 1967)
  • Fall (12/7/2014)  Magnificat, RV 610 by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)