Music is at the heart of our worship and community life here at the United Parish.

We love all kinds of music, from folk styles and African drums to both ancient and modern classical music. We take our music-making seriously and joyfully: Sunday morning music connects with the themes and scriptures used in worship; musical selections reflect the diversity in our community.

Believing that music penetrates the soul in ways that nothing else can, when we lift our voices in song, our hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits become instruments tuned to sing God’s praise; and when we listen to great music, we enter God’s time, shaped by melody, measured by rhythm, adorned by harmony.

Our choirs are open to all who desire to sing — experts and novices. We are eager to learn and expand our horizons, and look for ways to ensure that new sacred music of the highest quality continues to be written and performed in our church.


Minister of Music, Susan DeSelms at

IMG_2419 2.HEICThe Negro Spiritual Royalties Project

Launched on October 31, 2021, the Negro Spiritual* Royalties Project is an initiative started by the United Parish in Brookline to begin paying long overdue “royalties” for our use of Negro Spirituals in worship. Negro Spirituals are the original worship songs of enslaved Black people in America. They continue to be some of the most beloved music of the American people. *The term Negro Spiritual is the one preferred by our royalty recipients at Hamilton-Garrett Music and Arts. We use it with respect and humility.  Learn more about this initiative here.



Musicians-In-Residence: 855 Brass Quintet

Praise God with the sound of the trumpet! Praise God with the timbrel and dance:
Praise God with strings and the organ. Praise God upon the loud cymbals:
Praise God upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath Praise God! – Psalm 150

We welcome the incredibly talented 855 Brass Quintet into the United Parish family! Featuring Joel Kayser and Kyra Hulligan on trumpet, Joe Venezia on French horn, Kevin Dugat on trombone, and Hunter Farley on the tuba, they will play for 11am worship 5-6 times a year, for Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols, as well as giving concerts in our beautiful sanctuary.

Hailing from the vibrant musical hub of Boston, 855 stands as an outstanding brass quintet born out of the esteemed Boston University School of Music. Their ensemble comprises a collective of accomplished musicians, both current students and alumni of Boston University, each of whom have played with orchestras like the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, and the New World Symphony Orchestra. With a commitment to artistic excellence, 855 embraces a dynamic and diverse repertoire that spans across a multitude of musical genres. Their passion lies in crafting performances that resonate deeply with every member of our audience, delivering captivating and enjoyable concerts that linger long after the final note has faded.

Please join us as we raise our voices in harmony with sounds of the brass, organ, and drums(!) singing in community with this extraordinary group of young professionals.

Our organ

Our historic organ, once played by the world renowned concert organist, E. Power Biggs, is a product of the Great Depression, when E. M. Skinner’s small company obsessed over each and every detail. Ours is one of the few remaining originals. This romantic orchestral organ (complete with harp and an echo organ located in the chapel) is our primary instrument of worship, capably handling most styles of music, breathing life into the squarest of hymns. As not all music is best served by the organ, we often use the piano, African drums, handbells, and other instruments to glorify God.

“While E. Power Biggs seems not to have minded at all his dismissal from Christ Church, his absence from Sunday-morning commitments proved only temporary. In May 1935 he became organist and choir director of the Harvard Congregational Church of Brookline (now Brookline United Parish). This church differed from the two he had previously been associated with in that it was not Episcopalian. As part of a “non-conformist” denomination, its services and theology were perhaps more palatable to Biggs than those of the Anglican tradition, which he never seemed to have cared for. In addition, his duties there were lighter, consisting of one Sunday service and the rehearsal of an adult choir, plus weddings, funerals, and whatever concerts he wished to prepare. A further attraction was unquestionably the church’s 1932 Aeolian-Skinner organ, a sizable four-manual instrument showing the influences of both Ernest Skinner and G. Donald Harrison, which admirably met Biggs’s needs for a suitable practice, teaching, and recital instrument. Presumably the church also had a more lenient attitude toward the occasional protracted absences that his concert commitments entailed (and for which Biggs always provided a well-qualified substitute).

In January 1936 Biggs concertized in Washington, D.C.; in February he was off to the West Coast again, for a somewhat more extended tour, which included Claremont, Stockton, and Redlands colleges; Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and several churches in Oregon—all again to favorable notices. On his return he gave a recital in his new church in Brookline under the auspices of the Massachusetts (now Boston) chapter of the American Guild of Organists; and in April, sponsored by the local Bach-Brahms Society, Biggs gave his first recital in Methuen, Massachusetts, on an organ with which he was subsequently to have a long association, as teacher, performer, and recording artist.”

Excerpt from: E. POWER BIGGS, Concert Organist, by BARBARA OWEN, INDIANA UNIVERSITY PRESS, Bloomington and Indianapolis.

Music for Community Singing

While we draw from many different sources for the music we sing in worship, the hymnal found in our pews is the New Century Hymnal. The New Century Hymnal features some of the best hymns of the past along with new hymnody from some of the finest contemporary poets and composers. The New Century Hymnal strives to honor tradition while using inclusive language that welcomes and affirms all as members of Christ’s church.

We are currently building a complete collection of African American Heritage Hymnals for our pews as well, and regularly include music of Taizé, Anglican chant, and worship songs from a variety of other sources. We are always seeking music for our community that best meets the sacred moment.