Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to All! By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Last night we all went to our 9PM Christmas Eve Service. It is the service filled with music and choirs and soloists. Different services are focused on young families or on longer sermons. But, this one is my favorite.
For as long as long timers can recall, the Bible selections and the carols are the same, in identical order. As a friend told us ‘If they changed songs or Bible verses at the 9PM service, I think the stained glass would crack or the church bell would melt.’ So, you know what you are getting when you go.

Christmas at Fielding Road, 1954

 I’ll give you bits of it here on the Cousins Blog, interspersed with pictures of Taylor Christmas’ from long ago also—some from sixty years ago. 

Taylor Christmas, 1958

The Christmas Eve Service begins with a rollicking rendition of ‘On This Day the Earth Shall Ring’ and the organist hits those bass notes in style as we sing out:

‘On this day earth shall ring
               with the song children sing
               to the Lord, Christ our King,
               born on earth to save us;
               him the Father gave us. ‘

Bodies sway in time as loudly we give back:

               ‘Id-e-o-o-o, id-e-o-o-o, id-e-o,
               gloria in excelsis Deo!’

Grandma Taylor--1960

After listening to Isaiah 9:2, 6-7, we join in song again with ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’. I sing the harmony as my daughter and mother-in-law sing beside me with the lyrical alto part.

Then, Luke 1:26-35 and a soloist for ‘O Holy Night’.

Matthew 1:18-25 and we stand and sing ‘What Child is This’ with our voices rising in volume when we get to ‘This, this is Christ the King’.

‘What child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing,
Haste, Haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.’

Christmas 1951

Next the choir gives us a wonderful sing out of John Rutter’s ‘Shepherd’s Pipe Carol’.

Our meditation is ‘Unto Us a Saviour is Born’ and my mind jumps to Peanuts’ Linus reciting those words with the backdrop of a very scrawny, small Christmas tree.

Our church goes completely dark and only the sounds of many people moving with coats and paper programs and coughs fill the room. A woman behind whispers to her daughter ‘It is so dark in here.’ And, I know she does not often come to a Christmas Eve service. Her daughter confidently whispers back ‘Just wait.’

Christmas 1954

One by one, the glow of small flames get passed from person to person as our candles are lit and lifted high. We sing out ‘Silent Night’:

‘Silent Night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright,
Round yon virgin mother and child, holy infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace; sleep in heavenly peace.’

The church goers end with a loud and almost rowdy ‘Joy to the World! The Lord is Come’. We know Christmas is near.

Singing Carols, 1960

As we gather up our smoking candles and coats and gloves, we turn to talk to friends we know, some we see only this once a year. A night of singing, music--organ and guitar and piano and violin—and lessons from the Bible on Christ’s birth.

As we step out into the misty, wet night, it truly does feel like:

‘And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.’

Merry Christmas to All!

Christmas 1953


Kathryn said...

Merry Christmas Pat!!
I loved reading about your Christmas Eve Service!! I participate in the one at my Church each year. I am in the Choir. Alto. So, I am comparing the services.
We had our service at 7:00.
Our candle lighting was to Silent Night also. It is the perfect song for that.
Our scripture was in Matthew 2:12 - 23 - our Pastor has been doing different parts of the Christmas story each week of Advent.
A father and his daughter (who is in college) sang a duet of 'Mary Did You Know" - they sounded so great together!
Our choir sang Coventry Carol. Our Service varies from year to year.
At the end there is a lot of greeting each other. My Church family is a big part of my life.
Thanks for all you do. I appreciate you more than I could ever express.
Lots of love,

Pat said...

I LOVE 'Mary Did you Know'! Wish I could have heard it. And, I would love to slip in at the back of your church and watch you singing in the choir.

Thanks for sharing your church's service. Fun to compare.

I was talking yesterday by phone with a member of our Historical Society on the West Coast. I had not wanted to pick up the phone because I saw it was him and it WAS my home and it WAS Christmas Eve. But I listened to his plan for his book and then asked him what his Christmas would be like. 'I will be alone tomorrow, as I always am.' I did not know quite what to say to that, but I was VERY glad that I had taken the time to pick up the phone and talk with him.

We are so lucky to have family (such as they are!) and stories to share on holidays.

Love you,

Susan Kinsella said...

Pat, what a glorious blog story! I felt like I was at church with you. And I loved seeing the pictures, several of which I had forgotten and they were so delightful to see again. Thank you! So beautiful.

Merry Christmas to all! Love, Sue

Mom/CB said...

What a joy to remember those days! Thanks, Pat! Mom>b>