Christmastide at St. Peter’s

During the season of Christmas, St. Peter’s will offer a broad array of liturgies and music in celebration of two of the major feasts of the church year, Christmas and Epiphany. The story of Jesus’ incarnation, told through the familiar Gospel accounts of Luke, John, and Matthew, brings to life once again the sacred mysteries of our common faith. Alongside beautiful and inspiring liturgies, the St. Peter’s Choir and chamber orchestra will perform Christmas Eve prelude music and support the singing at many of the services.

Christmas Eve Preludes, 6:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

The St. Peter’s Choir and chamber orchestra present an extended prelude prior to the 7:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. services. The St. Peter’s Choir will sing the beloved Christmas oratorio, “A Ceremony of Carols,” by Benjamin Britten (1913–1976). Originally scored for three-part treble chorus, solo voices, and harp and written for Christmas, it consists of eleven movements, with text from The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems, edited by Gerald Bullett. Our Christmas Eve performance is from a later version scored for a mixed-voice choir such as St. Peter’s. 

Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24

4:00 p.m. – Christmas Pageant with Holy Eucharist. Beloved by all ages, this early service is intended especially for little ones and their families and includes Christmas carols and the annual Christmas Pageant. Our parish’s children, assisted by some of our youth, present the Christmas story through carols and costumes. By the end of the pageant, nearly the whole congregation is taking part. Childcare is provided beginning at 3:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II. This sung service of Holy Eucharist includes congregational carols and hymns, music sung by the St. Peter’s Choir, and a sermon by the Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Priest-in-Charge. The musical setting of the Eucharist, for choir and congregation, is from the Hymnal 1982 by English composer William Mathias (1934–1992) and American composer Robert Powell (b. 1932). The offertory anthem, based on the Jaroslav Vajda text, “Before the marvel of this night,” is a new composition by St. Peter’s Assistant Organist and Choirmaster, Garrett Law, and dedicated to the St. Peter’s Choir. Childcare is available for the 6:30 p.m. prelude and this service.

10:30 p.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II. This sung service of Holy Eucharist, which includes the ceremonial use of incense, is St. Peter’s traditional “Midnight Mass.” Timed so that worshippers leave the church just after midnight on Christmas morning, congregational carols and hymns, music sung by the St. Peter’s Choir, and a sermon by the Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Priest-in-Charge, make this service a favorite of parishioners, families, and visitors every year. The musical setting of the Eucharist, sung by the St. Peter’s Choir with chamber orchestra, is Missa Sancti Nicolai (Mass no. 6 in G Major) by Franz Josef Haydn (1732–1809). The offertory anthem, based on the Jaroslav Vajda text, “Before the marvel of this night,” is a new composition by St. Peter’s Assistant Organist and Choirmaster, Garrett Law, and dedicated to the St. Peter’s Choir. 

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Christmas Day, Wednesday, December 25

10:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite I. This quiet service of Holy Eucharist, in the traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer,  includes congregational carols and hymns and a homily.

The First Sunday after Christmas Day, Sunday, December 29

8:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite I and 10:45 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II. St. Peter’s will hold its regular services on Sunday, December 30, including nursery care beginning at 7:30 a.m. Holy Chow and formation offerings resume Sunday, January 5.

The Second Sunday after Christmas Day, Sunday, January 5

The Church and temporal calendars rarely give us two Sundays after Christmas Day, as we enjoy this season. The Collect of the Day begins, “O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature” and the Gospel lesson from Matthew recounts the story of the Wise Men’s encounter with Herod and their visit to see the infant Jesus in Bethlehem before “they left for their own country by another road.” On the Second Sunday of Christmas, the Eve of the Epiphany, we will bless the chalk for use in home blessings and ceremonially burn the Christmas greens after the 10:45 a.m. Holy Eucharist in the Churchyard. 

The Feast of the Epiphany, Monday, January 6

On the Feast of the Epiphany, a spoken Holy Eucharist will be offered in the Chapel, following 8:00 a.m. Morning Prayer.