Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore him [ . . .]
While we cannot say exactly when Christ was born, the adoption of December 25 as the day for celebrating Christmas has a profound theological message. In the darkness of winter, when the days are shortest, we celebrate the birth of Light into the world. We offer our whole selves to this Light, this Word, this Child. Our Christmas Eve processional hymn and all of our other music sings of something wonderful: the mysterious and brilliant birth of Divine Light in our souls. This is so important to us that it might only be compared to the unfolding of the universe. These are the things we celebrate, and these things inspire our song this Christmastime.
Please consider coming at 4:15 p.m. for our Christmas Eve Festival Eucharist (service begins at 5:00 p.m.) The choir, handbells, soloists, and instrumentalists of the Cathedral will offer a 45 minute concert prelude to help us prepare for this joyous occasion. We will hear music from Handel’s Messiah all the way to American folk tunes and English carols. There will be something for everyone! As we move into the Eucharist, we will sing familiar carols mixed with some pieces which may be new to you. Of course, during communion, we will hear O Holy Night as well as my own musical setting of the text of the Christmas Communion Antiphon. I would like to share that text with you.
Amidst the splendors of this heavenly sanctuary,
From the womb, before the morning star,
I have begotten you, beloved.
The above is a poetic interpretation of the heavenly action in the personification of Christ. Can you feel the joyous radiance of Christmas yet? The choir will sing, The Shepherd’s Farewell by Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) during the offertory. The text for this anthem speaks most poignantly about where all of this light, joy, and cheer eventually leads. The first line says it all. “Thou must leave thy lowly dwelling, the humble crib, the stable bare.” In a beautiful way, we are reminded that we must leave this place and carry what happened here into the rest of our lives, just like Jesus did. All of the music for this celebration is designed to fill us with love for God and neighbor as we celebrate Christmas, but we are also called to remember that this wonderful time is not just isolated to December 25. The choir has been working hard to put life and energy in all of our music all of the time, not just at Christmas. Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born every happy morning. As Advent turns into Christmas and as Christmas turns into Epiphany, it is my prayer that we can all greet our mornings with renewed joy and vigor. As we leave the stable, I hope our songs will resound in your hearts.
In closing, I would like to invite you to consider attending one of our Epiphany concerts. We will present a fascinating program on January 11, 18, and 25 at 4:00 p.m. in the Church. Hopefully, these programs will help us keep our child-like joy in our faith alive even after the holidays are officially over. All of us in the music ministry at Christ Church Cathedral wish you a blessed, wondrous, and merry Christmas!
Christopher W. Powell
Organist and Choir Master