We hope you will join us tonight at 7:00 p.m. for this year's Christmas Eve celebration in a prerecorded service of carols, bells, strings, organ, and choral music of Christmas past and present.
While recorded well before this Holy Night, the spirit of the season —and the Good News—is wholly manifested in the expressions of our communal worship together, albeit virtually.
A stable lamp is lighted whose glow shall wake the sky...
a barn shall harbour heaven, a stall become a shrine.
– from the carol "A Stable Lamp Is Lighted" by Richard Wilbur
Just a few days later, on the First Sunday after Christmas, a casual service of carols and stories. Join us for a relaxed worship hour of Christmas meditations and song as we gather around the piano and sing just a few more carols this year! There may even be a bad Christmas sweater or two. Sorry.
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
– from the movie "Elf," spoken by the title character Buddy Hobbs (a would-be elf) played by Will Farrell.
Songs of Mary
Marcel Dupre's Opus 18 contains fifteen improvised interludes based on vesper psalms and antiphons. Two Marian selections will be heard this Sunday: "How Fair and How Pleasant Art Thou" and the fifth movement from his six part "Magnificat," an ethereal depiction of the Magnificat text, "As he promised to our forefathers, Abraham, and his seed for ever."
Soprano Blair Carpenter sings "Christmas Lullaby" by Jason Robert Brown, a musical theater-inspired offering from the perspective of a modern-day Mary.
On December 23, we offer the annual Longest Night service in lieu of Vespers, with harpist Alaina Bongers and flutist Rebecca Quillen.
Songs of Expectation and New Life
"Rorate caeli" (Drop down, ye heavens) are the opening words of Isaiah 45.8 in the Vulgate bible, the late 4th century Latin translation of scripture. By the seventeenth century, this text was fused with other selected passages to form the Advent Prose and subsequently applied to liturgies and choral anthems for the Advent season. The Gregorian Chant melody ascribed to "Rorate caeli" is set beautifully in a tranquil setting by Jeanne Demessieux from her 12 Chorale Preludes on Gregorian Chant Themes, Op. 8 from 1950.
Two carols of the Advent season follow: my minimalist setting of the chorale "Savior of the Nations, Come" played by members of the Plymouth Ringers and a voluntary on the tune "Morning Song" by Richard Proulx, often paired with the text "The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns."
Next week's Vespers offers a Celtic Advent theme with bassist Peter Strening joining us..
Songs of Advent from the ages: two chorale preludes and a chant. Come, Jesus, Come.
J.S. Bach intended his Orgelbüchlein (little organ book) to be a source of pedagogy for aspiring organists and also contain works covering the entire liturgical year. While never fully completed, two works from the Advent section will be heard this Sunday: "Gottes Sohn ist kommen" (Once He Came in Blessing) and "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" (Savior of the Nations, Come.)
Simple works, yet ever artful. The 14th century tune "Veni Emmanuel" (O Come, O Come Emmanuel) is given a minimalistic treatment in my setting for the Plymouth Ringers.
At our next 7:00 p.m. Midweek Vespers on December 9, an Advent Taizé service will be offered with violinist Harmony Tucker.
Each week, Director of Music Mark Heiskanen writes a Music Minute previewing the upcoming Sunday's musical offerings and occasionally opines on other music-related topics.
We are blessed by an engaging music program at Plymouth!
Mark Heiskanen has been Plymouth's Director of Music since September 2017. Originally from Northeast Ohio, Mark has experience and great interest in a diverse range of musical styles including jazz, rock, musical theatre, and gospel. He is thrilled to serve a congregation and staff that values diversity and inclusion in all facets of life.