From my experience, Thanksgiving falls at just the right time of year. There is something magical about eating good food with friends and family, followed by a day of total rest and relaxation right before December. At least that’s been my tradition. This year, that rhythm has been restored for me. I grew up in Princeton, NJ, where my parents live. Typically, I would visit for at least a few days, if not a full week. Unfortunately, last year I was not able to visit, as I did not feel comfortable flying, vaccines were not available, and the drive would have been too long from Jacksonville, FL. For those in the US, I hope that you are able to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family and get much needed breathing space before the busyness of the Advent and Christmas seasons.
I was thinking about home and The Road Home by Stephen Paulus came to mind. I’ve had the good fortune of singing the piece at least once and there is something mesmerizing about the combination of the vocal lines and the text.
While I have thought about going home from a literal standpoint, I’ve also thought about the metaphors in the text. During COVID, I’ve often felt far from a familiar path. At times, it’s felt as if I’ve lost the road and the path forward. Perhaps you can relate. Thankfully, I’m slowly figuring out what it means to forge a new path forward. I am grateful for this brief pause before the plunge of the Advent and Christmas seasons. I decided to take a few additional vacation days so this is a full week of recharging for me.
Since I last wrote about the Advent/Christmas concert at my church, I have clarified the purpose and have finalized the musical portion of the program. Entitled Journey Through Darkness and Light, my hope is that the audience will be able to pause, rest, and reflect on their faith through music, art, and readings of the Advent/Christmas seasons. In a previous post, I shared a few of the selections in the concert. I thought I would share the complete program in this post. Audience and choirs will be masked, except for Chancel Ringers and Singers during their anthems.
The King Shall Come/arr. Cathy Moklebust/Chancel Ringers
Zion Hört die Wächter singen from BWV 140/J.S. Bach
Rejoice! Rejoice!/arr. Cathy Moklebust/Chancel Ringers
Lo, How a Rose/arr. Cathy Moklebust/Chancel Ringers with strings and organ
Reading with audience that interweaves Genesis 1 and John 1
O Emmanuel/Karen Marrolli/Chancel Choir
Come, Jesus, Come/Alfred Fedak/Chancel Choir
The King Shall Come/Hymn with choirs, strings, organ, and audience
Emmanuel/Peter Johns/Children’s and Youth Choirs
Light of Hope/Mark Patterson/Children’s Choir
Unto Us/Mark Patterson/Children’s Choir
Angels We Have Heard on High/Hymn with choirs, strings, organ, and audience
Jesus What A Wonderful Child/arr. Rollo Dilworth/Youth Choir
O Holy Night/arr. Jennifer Adams/Youth Choir
O Little Town of Bethlehem/Hymn with choirs, strings, organ, and audience
Night of Silence/arr. John Ferguson/Chancel Choir
Walk in the Light/arr. Andre Thomas/Chancel Choir
O Come, All Ye Faithful/arr. David Willcocks/Hymn with choirs, strings, organ, and audience
With regards to the spoken reflections, I am choosing from Crossings: Meditations for Worship and From Glory Into Glory: Reflections for Worship, both by Susan Palo Cherwien and published by Morningstar. The readings in both collections have such imaginative and creative language and I have used those collections for other programs in the past. After my time off this week, I will finalize which readings I’ll include from a short-list that I have. At the end of each reflection, the audience will be asked a question to ponder during the subsequent musical selection.
Contingent on obtaining the proper copyright, I will be using artwork from A Sanctified Art (https://sanctifiedart.org/) and He Qi (https://www.heqiart.com/). The art will be projected on a screen during the handbell selections. During vocal selections, the texts and translations will be projected on a screen. Long-term, I hope this concert will be a first step of combining multiple artistic elements in performances. COVID has emphasized the importance of live concerts, while also giving the space to start to re-imagine what performances could look like going forward.
A lesson I keep re-learning is the importance of filling up my cup so that I am at my optimum for my choirs. May your cup be filled and your spirit recharged this week.