The seasonal splendor of the Glory of Christmas
begins with the traditional holiday processional: Adeste Fidelis (O Come All Ye Faithful)—first a single soprano begins processing quietly from the entrance, followed by the glorious pageantry of the festive choral processional joined by the congregation, pipe organ, and timpani. Through a creative blend of congregational Christmas carols, solos, instruments, with the spoken word, the nativity story unfolds with colorful wonder. Both scriptures and contemporary readings recount the Christmas Story. Our renowned pipe organ is featured to fill our wonderfully restored sanctuary with the glorious sounds of Angels, Wisemen, and Shepherds.
We end the service with John Rutter's traditional Candlelight Carol and Silent Night as the single candle of the Spirit of Christmas is passed from one to another to fill our hearts with a renewed light of hope and peace.
Christmas Eve 2007
Carols are among the oldest music still performed; they were popular communal songs which began as circle dances in 12th-century Europe. In the 15th and 16th centuries they evolved into “Church music” and began being performed at services and festivals (while we mainly know them as Christmas music, there are Advent and Easter carols). During the Reformation carols fell out of favor — they were considered ”too Catholic” (despite Martin Luther’s love of them) — and were not revived until the 19th-century. The Salvation Army began performing carols with their brass bands in 1878 and in 1880 they began to be reintroduced to church services. Also beginning at this time in England and Eastern Europe was the practice of caroling, groups of people going from house to house and singing with great fervor, bringing carols back to their original place as public celebrations.
– Jay Lavelle
Audio excerpts sung by the Festival Choir(MP3):
CHRISTMAS EVE THROUGHOUT THE YEARS
Children's Christmas Pageant held earlier in December
Sanctuary decorated for Christmas Eve circa 1900
(prior to 1938 and 2000 sanctuary restorations)
Night has fallen.
Stars beckon in an indigo and velvet sky
Somewhere a baby is being born.
Tonight, the world lazes in a love of goodness
while glories stream from heaven afar
God is meeting us, tonight, where we are.
So be not afraid, and be of good cheer,
We wish you, each and all, Very Merry Christmas -
The hopes and fears of all the years have been met,
so Rest beside the winding road
and Hear the Angels Sing.
Benediction - Christmas Eve 2000 - Rev. Tom Schade