Dec. 22, 2003 — What has become an important part of many island residents' traditional celebration of Christmas will once again take place this Wednesday evening at the St. Thomas Reformed Church. For at least the past twenty years, the congregation has celebrated a Festival of Lessons and Carols.
This very musical service of worship consists of seven readings from scripture, beginning with the "Fall of Adam and Eve," and going through the unfolding story of the Messianic prophecies and the birth of the Savior.
The service concludes with the richly symbolic and "cosmic" interpretation of the incarnation from the beginning of the Gospel of John. Each reading is followed by a congregational carol, solo or choral anthem sometimes more than one.
The musical prelude before the service will begin at 6:30. The congregation's minister of music, Roger Lakins, will open the evening with Brahms' much-loved organ chorale based upon "Lo, How a Rose." Gregorian chants, German chorales, medieval English carols, and French Noels make up the body of the music.
The church choir has been fortunate in attracting some of the island's finest singers, many who also sing in other and much more select groups on the island.
Janie Imperial and Andrew Bowers will sing a duet from Saint-Saens' "Christmas Oratorio." The very sprightly "Glory to God in the Highest" will be sung by Doris Comissiong, a gifted and faithful alto in both the Reformed Church choir and the Caribbean Chorale. Drew Bowers will also sing a contemporary text and tune by Thomas Troeger and Carol Doran.
The two have published two volumes of text and music inspired by the assigned readings of the church year. The hymn that Bowers will sing is called "The Hands that First Held Mary's Child" and is a meditation on the inner thoughts and feelings of Joseph.
"Pastor Jeffrey Gargano generally gives a brief but deeply thought-provoking meditation, often taking on the character and perspective of one of the participants in the first Christmas," says Lakins. "We cannot over stress the fact that this is not a concert. It is a service of worship at which all are welcome, and we use the art of music to carry the message."
"We are delighted that people come to this service who do not ordinarily attend church or necessarily feel really comfortable about organized religion," says Lakins, who added, "Deep down we are praying that something in the sincerity of our faith, the beauty we try to offer God in our celebration, (or) the richness of God's Word will make the visitor feel that they have found a spiritual home at last and will come back soon and often."
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice… click here.