Music for Advent and Christmas

outenWe at St. Peter’s are rich with musical opportunities during the seasons of Advent and Christmas.

Our Sunday liturgies change musically to help us prepare for Jesus’ coming.  In hymns we sing “Comfort, comfort ye my people,” “On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry announces that the Lord is nigh,” and “Come thou long expected Jesus.” We simplify our Psalm singing from Anglican Chant to plainsong hoping to refresh and focus our meditations. Service music becomes less exuberant to encourage reflection. Led by the St. Peter’s Choir, the annual service of Advent Lessons and Carols delved deeply into the scripture and music of Advent, the tone of which ran from pensive to grandly expectant as in the hymn “Lo! he comes, with clouds descending.”

Each year, The Choir School Christmas Concerts take place on the second weekend of December, a bit premature for the liturgical calendar, but a wonderful way to end the first half of the choir season. These concerts, December 12 and 13, feature music ranging from classical Christmas favorites to “Winter Wonderland.” There is no better way to enjoy this time of year than through the voices and faces of these fine young singers. (You may order tickets online.)

The Center City Concerts series is presenting a choral program on December 15 under the direction of Rob Burlington that will include anthems for Christmas sung by some of Charlotte’s finest singers. This noontime program welcomes the community to enjoy the beauty of our space, warmth of our hospitality, and inspiration of music.

All of these events lead to Christmas Eve when we celebrate Jesus’ birth with the songs of children at the 4:00 p.m. Christmas Pageant and with the St. Peter’s Choir at the two later services. The prelude to the 6:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. services will be Antonio Vivaldi’s GLORIA, a festive multi-movement, baroque masterpiece accompanied by members of the Charlotte Symphony. At these services, the St. Peter’s Choir will also sing Thomas Weelkes’ “Gloria in excelsis” and Morten Lauridsen’s “O magnum mysterium.” Most importantly, however, on this night we open the Christmas carol treasure chest and all sing “O come all ye faithful,” “Hark! the herald angels sing,” “Silent Night,” and other favorites fulfilling our Advent preparations and responding to God’s gift to us, Jesus.

– Ben Outen, Director of Music and Organist