City Church San Francisco put on a really enjoyable Lessons and Carols service last year, which was all-virtual given the COVID restrictions. Livestreamed December 13, 2020, it features guest vocalist Nicolas Bearde, the City Church Jazz Quintet (Patrick Wolff on tenor sax, Mike Olmos on trumpet, Marcus Shelby on bass, Adam Shulman on piano, and Jeff Mars on drums) with Karl Digerness, and a children’s ensemble. Here’s the abbreviated version I recommend, which is forty-five minutes:
The following songs are interspersed with scripture readings (the links will take you to the extracted song video on YouTube):
- “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”
- “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”
- “What Child Is This”
- “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow”
- “O Come, O Come, Messiah” (I love this so much!)
- “We Three Kings”
- “O Come, All Ye Faithful”
I suggest you light the fireplace (if you’re in a wintry clime, that is!), grab some hot cocoa, and gather the fam on the couch to give a listen together. Lyrics are printed onscreen for a few of the carols, for you to sing along with.
Or, perhaps you want to play the video while you’re doing some holiday baking!
The fuller-blown service, which is ninety minutes, includes a time of offering, a homily, communion, responsive prayers, church announcements, and a few additional songs and instrumental numbers that I’ve embedded below.
“I Wonder as I Wander” (instrumental prelude):
“O Tannenbaum” (instrumental postlude):
The City Church Little Big Band produced a Christmas jazz album in 2012, Go Tell It!, that includes recordings of many of the arrangements you hear here. Check it out.