Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas was...beautiful

of course, I know that my perspective from my perch is possibly a bit skewed...
but at the very least I ought to summarize the past 36 hours as historical interest:

an hour before the Christmas Vigil Mass, as I was just about to begin rehearsing the children's choir, I heard...water dripping.
"Is that...water dripping?"
"I was just about to ask that..." replied the harpist.
Sure enough, water appears to be dripping down behind the organ (from the bell tower above it,) and onto the organ's reservoir! argh!
In a panic, I called Fr. G, who of course resoponded, "well, I can't really do anything about it cuz I'm not there right now, and come to think of it, when I do get there in half an hour I won't be able to do anything either..."
(keep in mind, that earlier this week the real feel temp was negative thirty degrees, so to even have rain on Christmas Eve is, well, welcome to Michigan.)
Someone helped me by getting some large trash bags to put over the organ and file cabinets. (wherever the water was coming from was so high up that it was quite spread out by the time it got down to the loft, so it wasn't just going to one small spot.)
As typical Michigan weather goes, the temperature dropped twenty degrees just during Mass, so hopefully I won't have to deal with this again until it thaws...which might be tomorrow. argh.
It was just the...perfect timing of this happening on Christmas Eve.

Anyhow, the MUSIC then went fabulously. the choir (small as it was,) sounded pretty good, and the harp playing arpeggios along with the sustained chords of the organ on the carols was lovely.

Following Mass, with a few friends (including my sister,) we had a polish/slavic traditional sort of Christmas Eve dinner, complete with mushroom soup, pierogies, beets, rolls, pastries, and of course some kind of flat bread with honey on it (which was actually an unconsecrated priest-host which I obtained from the sacristy, ahem...) [I have been americanized enough to not know the name of all of these polish/lithuanian dishes...]

Then of course it was back to the church for 9:30 pm rehearsal for 10:3o pm carols and 11 pm "midnight mass."
(I had been informed 2 weeks ago that one of my newer choir members is an accomplished violinst, so, even though she's from Germany and didn't really know any of our carols, I threw some violin and descant parts at her 5 days ago, and she pulled them off wonderfully!)
I had probably the largest choir I've had since I've been at St. P for 2.5 years, they were overflowing off the normal but rather small space they sing from, let's see, I'm counting...I think 15! wow!
Contrary to what many people at the NLM and other places think, I do NOT think that Christmas is good time to be adding new and unusual things to Mass, so we didn't even do some of the things we've been doing for the past several months like chanting the entrance antiphon (in English.) It was pretty much straight carols, except for the group of ladies and myself who have been singing the proper Communion chant first thing at Communion for almost a year. And the choir sang a three-part arrangement of Bach's "Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light," which we've been working on for probably a month, and that was beautiful. (Actually, I couldn't bear to have them sing it just once after all our hard work, so we sang it as the second Offertory song, first once really soft, and then again a bit louder.) Then at Communion we also sang an anthem arrangement (3-part) of "Infant Holy."
Nothing I would do differently, except somehow I planned one too many carols before Mass, so we had to leave out "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," which I actually really like.
I was home by 12:30 or so, and calculated that I could sleep til 7 am (for 8 am Mass,) and get to church by 7:35. (I live closer than I've ever lived before to church--I can get there in 8 minutes sometimes!) So I actually felt better all Christmas Day than I have for the past 3 years, really cuz that extra half hour or so of sleep compared to past years.
anyhow, enough about my sleep habits. St. P is one of the very few churches I've heard of (actually, I'm not sure I've heard of any others, but then I haven't really looked,) who celebrate all four Christmas Masses, (vigil, midnight, dawn, and day.) and while every year Fr. G and I are like, "why do we have an 8 am Mass on Christmas morning?" and sure enough only about 75 people come, I still think it's cool that we have all four Masses.
So for the first Mass in the morning, it was just me as organist and cantor, nothing special.

then, for 10:30 am Mass, everyone was in for a treat. Four of my friends, (actually, I've gotten to know them all during the past few months through my new roommate as of September,) all normally sing at and attend other churches either in Detroit or away at grad school, but their families all go to St. P. So...for Christmas one of them had suggested to me the idea a couple months ago of all singing at St. P together, and singing some cool stuff, cuz they're all decent musicians.
They all knew Victoria's "O Magnum" and "Lo How a Rose" and I introduced them to Tallis' "O Nata Lux." (I didn't realize before that the O Nata was in five parts! good thing I was there--I sang the counter tenor part. tee hee, --minus the low D!)
We sang all three as preludes, then we sang "O Magnum" as a second Offertory song, and "Lo" again at Communion. It was ....beautiful. As Fr. G described it afterwards, we didn't just sing, we sang
(I don't know if anyone can access this, but here is a facebook link to O Magnum --I didn't know it was being recorded, and the blend is a bit distorted b/c of the position of the recording device.)
And it was fun, cuz they're all friends!

then off to my Grandma's to eat a wonderful dinner and open presents with the whole immediate family and some of the extended family.
A very lovely Christmas, I must say.


Anonymous said...

I was at the 10:30

It was wonderful. You deserve a special present for your efforts and the great fruits which result.

Of course Fr G's homily was also top notch. That and music can have a wonderful and memorable effect on those who sadly stay away between the Easter and Christmas liturgies. Perhaps you have given one to pause and think about what they are missing.

Of course, now you have to keep up the good work.... as I am sure you will.

God Bless

Anonymous said...

We were at the 8 o'clock - low energy crowd, that's for sure! Next year we'll hit the "midnight" mass again, I feel like we missed out. Fr G's homily was AMAZING, I wish he would print it out so we could distribute it.