Here's my top 6 pieces for Jr. High Chorus (plus one new favorite):
Guiseppe Pitoni, arr. by Joyce Eilers (Jenson Publication)
Originally intended for SSAB, I simply transpose this down one full step and it works very well for 8th grade SATB voices. With a fairly extensive Latin text, it is not a good first experience in Latin, but the ranges are quite limited in the upper voices and the homophonic treatment makes learning easier. The bass line does challenge the boys to find their head voice with a few octave leaps and a range from low A-flat to middle C. It's a great piece for working acapella 4-part singing.
In These Delightful
Henry Purcell, arr. Robinson (Alfred)
A renaissance madrigal set for three voices SAB, it utilizes paired imitation in descending thirds and other typical madrigal devices. A good introduction to madrigal style. Light and cheerful. Great for working on rhythmic accuracy.
My Love is Like
a Red, Red Rose
F. Scott Coulter (Santa Barbara)
This arrangement, in SSAB format, features the melody in the baritone line (highest note is E-flat) with a three part women's descant above. Very beautiful. It works well in building unison within the men's section and vocal independence within the women's.
Greg Gilpin (Alfred)
This SATB song has a spanish language text with a fun Calypso-beat accompaniment. It offers several solo opportunities with a chorus melody which is set with variety in each of its appearances. My kids love this piece each time I pull it off the shelf.
arr. Linda Spevacek (Jenson Publications)
A beautiful SAB arrangement of this time-honored classic. The piano part is lush, with voices splitting into a rich SSAB in the last verse. This arrangement has three verses with some unusual harmonic settings. The first verse is an optional solo. This is an Oldie-Goldie!
Music of My Heart
Diane Warren, arr. Jerry Ray (Warner Bros.)
This one works well for an end of the year farewell or 8th grade graduation ceremony. In typical SATB pop-style arrangement, the chorus repeats several times and moves up a step each time, but the words of the verses sensitively express the singers' gratitude for the audience's love and support throughout the years.
For We Wish You Music
Douglas Wagner (Warner Bros.)
This is a new publication, but has quickly found a place in my favorites list. The melody is lovely and moves between male and female voices easily. Easily accessible 4-part sections intertwine with two-part writing. With its general "blessing" text, which does not actually refer to God, this a safe bet for establishing a general feeling of good will at the end of the concert.
— Sue Hunter