Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lessons and Carols at MMF (2007)

With my recent spate of Irish music performances now concluded, I was able to give my full attention to planning the 2007 Lessons and Carols service at Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship (MMF). Since I prefer the traditional format of paired readings and music, I decided not to include a pageant like we did in our 2006 service. Instead, I organized an adult choir, a children's choir, and a couple of duets.

Here is the order of service used on December 16th, 2007, and a few pictures taken by my friend, Mervin Horst. 62 people attended this year's Lessons and Carols service. 27 were involved in reading and presenting music.

Prelude (Mory Ortman, pianist)
Welcoming Greeting (Sylvia Shirk Charles, pastor)
Introduction of visitors
Candle Lighting of the Third Advent Candle
Opening Congregational Songs:
"Oh, how shall I receive thee"

(we sing this song every year in memory of our former pastor, Arlene Pipkin, who introduced it to our congregation in Advent 2001, the year before she died.)

Lesson One: Psalm 96: 1-4 and 11-13
Praise to the Lord, the righteous judge
the First Carol: "Let the heavens be glad"

(MMF Adult Advent Choir)

Lesson Two: Matthew 25: 1-13
You know not when the Lord will come
the Second Carol: "Sleepers, wake!" (congregation)

Lesson Three: Luke 1: 57-79
Zechariah prophesies the birth of the Savior
the First Carol: "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence/Bless’d Be the God of Israel"

(Linda Hood - flute, Robert Charles - guitar)

Lesson Four: Isaiah 9: 2-7
The prophet Isaiah speaks of a child who is born for us
the Fourth Carol: "O come, all ye faithful" (congregation)

Lesson Five: Luke 1:26-31 and 46-56
The angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will conceive a son, Jesus
the Fifth Carol: "My soul is filled with joy" (congregation)

Lesson Six: Luke 2:1-12
The birth of Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem
the Sixth Carol: "The Friendly Beasts/Away in a Manger "
(MMF Children’s Advent Choir)

Lesson Seven: Luke 2:13-20
Angels and shepherds praise God at the birth of Jesus
the Seventh Carol: "O Holy Night"
(Sharon and Sarah Hewitt - vocal duet, accompanied by Mory Ortman - pianist)

Congregational Carol: "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"
Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Offering
Offertory Music: Concerto for Violin, by Antonio Vivaldi
(Maya Petkovitch - violin, accompanied by Mory Ortman - piano)
Pastoral Prayer / Congregational Prayer

Closing Congregational Song: "Keep your lamps trimmed"
Postlude - Boil the Cabbage, a traditional American tune
(Anya Petkovitch - violin, accompanied by Mory Ortman - piano)

The Children's Advent Choir was this year's big hit. The age range of the kids pictured above was 3 to 13. We had only two rehearsals. The first one left much to be desired, and I was sure my inspiration to pull together a children's choir was symptomatic of some holiday lapse of sanity. However, one of the nonreaders practiced every day and memorized the words. All the kids worked hard at the second rehearsal, and in the service they were transformed into a choir of angels! They sang two songs - The Friendly Beasts and Away in the Manger. They pronounced the words clearly. They sang in unison on pitch. They held onto the tune against a varied and flowing piano accompaniment. Some children even sang solos on the internal verses of The Friendly Beasts. I was so glad I hadn't lost my courage. They were quite good, and I was very touched by how hard they worked and how happy they were to be part of the service.

As is our custom, the Lessons and Carols service was followed by a potluck dinner at Menno House. SoupFest was the theme of this year's Christmas potluck which featured four delicious soups and various salads as well as many homemade desserts. We all enjoyed time to visit with each other and bask in the glow of the service.

To all of you in various parts of the world, let me extend Merry Christmas greetings. I hope you find time amidst the frantic shopping and holiday parties to enjoy warm moments with people you love and to be engaged in activities that bring meaning to your life.

Photos by Mervin Horst, used with permission.

© 2007, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement


mbg said...

Thank you, Linda! Wish we were there. It's great to see some old familiar faces, and to see how the kids are growing up. Hope to get to MMF sometime soon. Merry Christmas. love, Melissa

Anonymous said...

Oh, Linda this sounds (and looks) like it was a wonderful service. And those kids are growing like weeds!

Malinda B.