Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve Report

I did not attend the Christmas pageant yesterday, but I did attend the 7:30 and 11 o’clock services as a member of the choir. It was reported to me that the pageant was what we have come to expect—very crowded, very cute.

PoinsettiaBoth evening services were well attended; there were more people at the early service, but it was gratifying to see a crowded church twice in one night. Worshipers mostly dressed up for the occasion—there was a lot of red in the pews.

As usual, the church was attractively decorated. It struck me that the poinsettias were more beautiful than any of the plants I’m used to seeing for sale. Their bracts (look it up) were an intense, deep shade of red.

The services were most remarkable for the music, which was abundant and stirring, yet mostly familiar. Instrumentalists played at both services, but the 10:30 hymn sing has grown from an opportunity for worshipers to sing the traditional carols and perhaps hear a few new ones to something more like a holiday pops concert, complete with substantial orchestra. The choir sang two choral anthems during the services, “In the bleak midwinter” and, from Messiah, “For unto us a child is born.”

Lou preached one of his better sermons—and his best Christmas sermon—from the pulpit. Members of the choir could actually see him there, and I assume that people sitting in the pews could better see him as well.

As is becoming commonplace, we were short on acolytes, though not embarrassingly so. There were four at 7:30 and five at 11 o’clock.

My only disappointment was the lighting, which was something of a mess. Since we seldom take advantage of the features of our lighting control system for the church, no one seems to understand it or the principles of theatrical lighting any more. The pew candles were lit, but the artificial lighting was often so bright as to make them irrelevant. Evening services generally should be less brightly lit than daytime events. Only at the Refuge service does this seem to be understood, but lighting for that service, at least for the times I’ve attended, has tended to be so minimal that even reading the service booklet is difficult.

As usual, we dimmed the lights for the singing of “Silent night.” There always seems to be some controversy about just how dark the church should be made for this. My guess is that, in the nave, the lighting was about right last night. The nave lanterns were dimmed, but not extinguished. On the other hand, the chancel lanterns were completely off, and, as a choir member, I found reading my music virtually impossible. Fortunately, choir members know the hymn pretty well. At both services, however, when the lights came up, they were much too bright, for reasons I cannot imagine.

Lighting aside, last night’s services were wonderful celebrations of the incarnation. It’s too bad if you missed going to at least one of them. (There is still time to get to today’s 10 o’clock service.)

Have a blessed Christmas.

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