One Woman, Ruth Krehbiel Jacobs

Choristers Guild was founded in Los Angeles by the late Ruth Krehbiel Jacobs, based on an idea—the systematic development of Christian character in boys and girls through the medium of the church Children’s Choir.

Ruth’s desire to establish Choristers Guild grew out of her own personal experiences in choral music with children as well as her experiences in giving lectures and conducting festivals and seminars. As she began to achieve more national prominence, she received numerous “How do you do it?” requests from all over the country. The idea of sending out mimeographed letters on a regular basis evolved. The Choristers Guild organization and the regular distribution of Choristers Guild Letters came into existence in 1949 in Los Angeles.

The Beginning

Choristers Guild was initially a personal venture of Ruth and her husband, Leslie Jacobs, who supported it financially. As the Guild grew, it was decided that the Guild should be incorporated. In 1953, Choristers Guild as an official organization was incorporated in Memphis Tennessee, where the Jacobs were then living. A board of Directors was selected, and Leslie assumed the full-time position of Executive Secretary, giving Ruth more time to devote herself to the objectives of Choristers Guild. In these early years, all activities were conducted from their home, by then in Santa Barbara, California. During the formative years, local city and regional chapters of the Choristers Guild were formed in a number of cities, usually as a result of a festival or workshop conducted by Ruth Jacobs.

Growth and Expansion

Ruth passed away in 1960, leaving all CG responsibilities to her husband. As Leslie’s health deteriorated, the CG office was moved from California to Dallas, Texas, where Dr. Federal Lee Whittlesey left Highland Park Methodist Church to become Executive Director. The CG office has remained in the Dallas area. After Whittlesey, a series of executive directors and notable contributors like John and Helen Kemp, John Burke, Patty Evans, and Jim Rindelaub helped build Choristers Guild into the organization that it is today. 

In time, the Chorister Guild Letters transformed into a printed publication, The Chorister. Additionally, there was a steady increase in the use of CG published materials such as anthems, workbook pages, hymn studies, bulletin covers, awards, and other choir aids. These materials were, at first, distributed directly to members. But as the catalog grew, music dealers began carrying CG music and materials, including music for schools. 

The Future of CG

Today, Choristers Guild is known as a large choral and handbell music publisher, has more than 12,000 strategic partners with over 2,000 members worldwide, and provides educational workshops and a certification program for choral directors. It is managed by Executive Director Dawn Jantsch and a team of nonprofit and music professionals. As stewards of this historic organization, the CG team is committed to remaining relevant and mission-focused. That mission: enabling leaders to nurture the musical and spiritual growth of children, youth, and adults.