Sunday, December 18, 2011

“The Playing of the Merry Organ, Sweet Singing in the Choir” ― Lessons and Carols at South Church

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Today the wonderful Chancel Choir at South Church in New Britain sings at the annual Candlelight Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at 4:00 p.m. This service is part of the celebrated Music Series at South Church, now in its 39th season.

This worship service is free and open to the public, but you might want to get there early to secure a seat. The church really fills up for this beautiful event, which is modeled on the Festival of Lessons and Carols at King’s College, Cambridge, first held in 1918.

Even if you are not a religious person, this service is a nice opportunity to hear the Christmas story told in its entirety, in a lovely setting, and far away from any crass commercialism. The Chancel Choir is a remarkable ensemble, known for its musicianship and artistry, and the Gress-Miles pipe organ is always worth hearing. (How I’ve missed that instrument!)

And see the beautiful program:


Much beautiful music is in store – I’ve appended the program below.

My favorites?

“I look from afar” by Anthony Piccolo - because it is ethereal, powerful, and ravishingly unique. And I love where it lies in my voice.

“Annunciation Carol” by Robert Lehman - because it is difficult and I enjoy the challenge

“I wonder as I wander” by Carol Rutti - because the choir loves it

“Nunc Dimittis” by George Dyson – because it is two minutes of some of the most beautiful music ever sung

Come and hear for yourself.

A Candlelight Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
Sunday, December 18, 2011, 4:00 p.m.
South Church, New Britain, Connecticut

INVITATORY CAROL

“The Holly and the Ivy”
Words: Anonymous Medieval Carol
Setting (2010): June Nixon (b. 1942)

PROPHECY I

“Remember, O Thou Man”
Words: Anonymous ballad
Setting: Thomas Ravenscroft (c1592-1633)

PROPHESY II

“Come through the Gloom”
Words: George MacDonald
Setting (2010): Kevin McGoff
(Dedicated to the South Church Chancel Choir)

PROPHECY III

“I Look from Afar”
Words: Psalm 80, and Gloria Patria
Setting (1983): Anthony Piccolo

THE ANNUNCIATION

“Annunciation Carol”
Words: Anonymous 15th Century carol
Setting (2000): Robert Lehman (b. 1960)

THE BIRTH OF JESUS

“I Wonder as I Wander”
Words: Traditional Appalachian
Setting (1996/2000): Carl Rütti (b. 1949)

THE ANGELS AND THE SHEPHERDS

“Angels, from the Realms of Glory”
Words: James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Setting (2010): Malcolm Archer (b. 1952)

THE MAGI

“Lully, lulla, Thou Little Tiny Child”
Words: 15th century English ballad
Setting (1984): Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988)

SIMEON AND ANNA

“Nunc Dimittis”
Words: from Luke 2
Setting (1924): George Dyson (1883-1964)

THE INCARNATION

“O Come, All Ye Faithful” [congregational hymn]
Words: from John 1

THE OFFERTORY

“The Little Drummer Boy”
Words & Music: Harry Simeone; arr. (1981): John McCarthy

“On Christmas Night”
Words: Sussex Carol
Setting (1978): Philip Ledger (b. 1937)

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