". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Listening

While the secular culture's celebration of Christmas is coming to an end (it will be over on December 26), that of liturgical Christians has not yet begun. For us Christmas starts on December 24 and continues until Epiphany. For years now our family has kicked off our own Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve morning by listening to the live broadcast of the King's College Chapel Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. The service begins at 3:00 p.m. Cambridge time, which means 9:00 a.m. central standard time. So every Christmas Eve morning we make sure everyone is awake, coffee is poured and breakfast set out, and we gather in our pajamas around the radio (or these days, the computer), and listen. It has become our tradition, and I can think of no better way for us to begin our meditation on the miracle of Christ's birth than by gathering together in quietness, listening to His Word, and being blessed by some of the most beautiful music one could ever imagine. Once the King's College Lessons and Carols service is over, the day becomes hectic, with last minute Christmas preparations and many services to attend (if you are a regular reader you know that my husband is a Lutheran cantor and the rest of us are part of his musical army). But from 9:00-10:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve, our family sits together and soaks it in in a way we won't get to at our own church (because we are rarely all sitting together at one time). It helps us keep Christmas in perspective.

If you have never listened to the King's College Lessons and Carols service, I invite you to do so with us this year. Here are some links to help you out:

Here's an article written by Michael Barone that describes his experience of attending the actual event last year. It's like a rock concert. People start lining up on the afternoon of December 23 in hopes of making it through the front door of the chapel.

And finally, here's an article by Jonathan Willcocks, son of Sir David Willcocks, long-time former musical director at King's College, about his memories of singing in the choir when he was a child (the choir is composed only of men and boy sopranos). I love his reminiscences of getting in trouble for having wax ball fights (even King's College boys will be boys!) and of how the soloist for the opening of the service was chosen:

Even the boy who was chosen (usually at the very last moment) to sing the solo first verse of the carol “Once in Royal David’s city” would not be especially anxious; it would just be another solo alongside many that he would have sung in the regular services in the chapel.

The parents of that boy soloist who would be the ones suffering the agonies of anxiety. I was in the somewhat unusual situation of having my father, Sir David Willcocks, as Musical Director of the choir. Again, it didn’t at the time seem awkward to me. Perhaps fortunately I was one of the “also-rans” rather than a star solo voice and so the dilemma of whether to choose me to sing the solo at the Christmas Eve service never arose.

After you listen to the Lessons and Carols broadcast tomorrow, you will be ready for more Christmas music, right? And while most broadcast stations will be winding down, discontinuing their Christmas music offering on the morning of December 26, there is a radio station that knows that Christmas is only just beginning! Watch below for more information.

I would like to wish all of you a most blessed and peaceful Christmas celebration. Thank you for reading. May God be with you today and always, in your trials and in your joys, assuring you of His forgiveness and all-consuming love.

1 comment:

Karen said...

We've been listening to the King's College Chapel Festival for several years now. Thanks for recommending it. It's become an intregal part of out Christmas Eve.