Advent has another week to go, the week of deepest darkness that comes before the glorious Christmas dawn. The more we immerse in the spirit of Advent–making time for our spiritual life doing things like reading, praying, getting out in nature, serving people in need–the more joyous our Christmas can be. Yet joyous outbursts are part of Advent, too–we felt it last week on Pageant Sunday and we will feel it Christmas Eve in the first half of the 6:00 PM service.
We will begin this Sunday in joy, too, celebrating Christ’s birth by hearing some of the nativity story and singing “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” The choir will sing “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and a trio of Betsy Alexander, Bridget Peters and Marcia Tomlinson will sing “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree.” John Atwood will be playing special music involving chimes and a major Bach Prelude and Fugue that is traditionally associated with Christmas. The sermon will reflect on the “Universal, Unconditional, Unstoppable Love” that we witness in the Christmas story, and that we continue to see at work in our lives and in the world today.
Yet like Christmas Eve, we will end the service quieting into the silent night of Advent still left ahead, singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and the ancient plainsong benediction one last time. John’s postlude will be the Ukrainian Bell Carol.
Here is a Simon Preston recording of the Bach Prelude and Fugue in C Major that John will be playing: