Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Together

Sunday night was our "big music presentation" for Advent/Christmas. Although it waited until the very last minute to come together, I was very pleased (aka relieved) that our people found it to be balanced and worshipful. When you serve a church with more than one worship "personality", it becomes more of a challenge (in my experience, at least) to craft a seasonal worship event that meets the "tastes" of the whole. This year, because I searched and searched and could find nothing published that "did it" for what I percieved to be the needs of my congregation. So I chose to use the framework of the 9 lessons and carols to organize an experience that involved the Sanctuary Choir (11:00 ... traditional); First Light (8:30 ... contemporary); and Youth Choir (bridges the gap ... loves both traditional stuff and contemporary as well), along with a string quartet plus a double bass.

Our material came from old musicals (only a couple of pieces ... maybe just one), praisecharts.com (First Light and congregational), and anthem literature (Sanctuary Choir and Youth Choir). Some of the praisecharts.com pieces had string parts published with it. At least one of those pieces required me to convert jazz-type brass charts to string stuff (don't laugh .. it worked fairly well). I wrote string parts for some of the pieces, and bought orchestration for at least one of the anthems.

Here's what the congregation had to look at while we led through the experience:

Christmas Together. In the early 20th century, King’s College, Cambridge, began the tradition of Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve. Since then, services of Lessons and Carols have become common throughout the world. The scripture lessons remind us of our need for a Savior, and of the redemptive grace of God in sending Jesus Christ to restore us unto Himself. This evening the Sanctuary Choir (from the 11:00 service), First Light (from the 8:30 service), and the Youth Choir combine to set the table for a unified expression of joy in Christ. We are delighted that you are here to celebrate with us!

FIRST LESSON -- God tells sinful Adam that he has lost the life of Paradise and that his seed will bruise the serpent’s head. (Genesis 3:8-15, 17-19)

O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Latin plainsong hymn, arr. John Wasson
Congregation (led by the voices of First Light)

SECOND LESSON -- God promises to faithful Abraham that in his seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 22:15-18)

I Wonder As I Wander
Appalachian Folk Hymn, arr. John Jacob Niles
Solo Bob Thomason
God So Loved the World
Words and Music by Dan Goeller
Sanctuary Choir and Youth Choir

THIRD LESSON -- The prophet foretells the coming of the Saviour. (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7)

For Unto Us
Words and Music by Mark Cole
First Light

FOURTH LESSON -- The peace that Christ will bring is foreshown. (Isaiah 11:1-4a, 6-9)

Creation Will Be at Peace
Words by J. Paul Williams, Music by Anna Laura Page
Sanctuary Choir

All Is Well
by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Michael W. Smith, arr. Ron Huff
Youth Choir, Laura Thorp, solo
FIFTH LESSON -- The angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Luke 1:26-35, 38)

Mary, Did You Know?
Words by Mark Lowry, Music by Buddy Greene, arr. Jack Schrader
Sanctuary Choir

SIXTH LESSON -- Luke tells of the birth of Jesus. (Luke 2:1, 3-7)

The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy
Traditional, arr. Camp Kirkland and Tom Fettke
Youth Choir guys

Words and Music by Paul Baloche, arr. David Shipps
First Light

SEVENTH LESSON -- The shepherds go to the manger. (Luke 2:8-16)

Ding, Dong Merrily on High
Austrian Carol, arr. Smith
Sanctuary Choir with handbells
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Words by P. P. Brooks, Music by Lewis H. Redner, arr. John Wasson
Congregation (led by the voices of First Light)
EIGHTH LESSON -- The wise men are led by the star to Jesus. (Matthew 2:1-11)

Still, Still, Still
Austrian Carol, arr. Norman Luboff
Sanctuary Choir

Words and Music by Tom Fettke
Sanctuary Choir
NINTH LESSON -- John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation (John 1:1-14)

O Come, All Ye Faithful
by John Francis Wade, arr. David Shipps


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