N.B.: Upcoming dates:
- December 4: “For God So Loved the Cosmos: A Service of Lessons and Carols,” Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Michigan
- December 11: “A Dawning Light” service, Grace Mosaic, Washington, DC
- December 14: (Virtual) Advent Art Salon, organized by Image journal
More info below!
STORY & SONG SERVICES:
>> “A Dawning Light,” Grace Mosaic, Washington, DC: On December 12 last year, I attended Grace Mosaic’s fourth annual “Dawning Light” service, an evening of Advent and Christmas gospel music and scripture readings. It was wonderful, progressing from darkness to light together, feeling collectively our longing and our joy. The service was organized by the church’s pastor of worship and formation, Joel Littlepage, who’s at the keys. The song list is below. My favorite is probably the “Emmanuel” medley around fifty-two minutes in, or the medley that follows.
- Processional: “Wait for the Lord” by Jacques Berthier, Taizé Community
- 9:06: “The Truth Sent from Above,” traditional English carol with music by Joel Littlepage
- 15:50: “Come, O Redeemer, Come” by Fernando Ortega
- 19:14: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” arr. Kimberly Williams | Soloist: Kimberly Williams
- 26:17: “Tenemos Esperanza” by Federico J. Pagura (words) and Homero R. Perera (music), Argentina | Soloist: Melissa Littlepage
- 35:51: “Lift Up Your Voices” by Nikki Grier, as performed by the Sunday Service Choir
- 44:10: “O Holy Night” by Adolphe Charles Adam, Placide Cappeau, John S. Dwight, arr. Kimberly Williams | Soloist: Kimberly Williams
- 52:13: “Emmanuel” by Solly Mahlangu, South Africa, sung in Sotho
- 55:10: “Emmanuel” by Norman Hutchins | Soloist: Russ Whitfield
- 59:20: “Christmas Worship Medley” (“Alpha and Omega,” “Be Unto Your Name,” “Magnificent and Holy,” “The Almighty Reigns”), as performed by Israel Houghton, arr. Dan Galbraith
- 1:15:10: “Jesus Is the Reason” by Kirk Franklin
- 1:20:19: “Joy to the World” by Isaac Watts (words) and George Frideric Handel (music) (congregational hymn)
- 1:23:24: Recessional: “Joy to the World” (instrumental)
This year’s “Dawning Light” service will be held December 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Grace Mosaic in Northeast Washington, DC. A catered reception will follow. RSVP here.
>> “For God So Loved the Cosmos: A Service of Lessons and Carols,” December 4, 2022, LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan: This Sunday at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship is holding a Lessons & Carols service (in-person and livestreamed) celebrating the Bible’s all-creation vision of redemption. The program is posted, and it looks great! If you’re remote, you can tune in on YouTube.
2021 ADVENT ART SALON: Organized by Image journal, this virtual hour-long salon took place on December 14, 2021. The two highlights for me are Christopher J. Domig’s performance of the Shepherd’s monologue from “The Birth” by Frederick Buechner (12:54–18:33), in Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, and the Rev. Dr. Lauren Winner’s reflection on Mary’s pregnancy (43:44–49:26), in which she shares, in addition to two images, an unusual Advent practice she follows, recommended to her by a Baptist pastor who is also a doula!
Image is hosting another virtual Advent Art Salon this year on December 14 at 5 p.m. Eastern (2 p.m. Pacific). It will feature an Advent meditation by Amy Peterson, poetry readings by Karen An-hwei Lee and Jonathan Chan, a performance of Annie Dillard’s “God in the Doorway” by Rachel Ingram, a musical performance by Eric Marshall of Young Oceans (who is on my Advent playlist!), and a reading on feasting by Kendall Vanderslice. View more info here, and register here.
NEW ADVENT/CHRISTMAS ALBUMS: All three of these are available on Spotify andother streaming services.
>> We Wait: Advent and Christmas, vol. 2 by The Many: An EP of two traditional songs and two originals by The Many, an intentionally diverse collective gathered around their “shared love of music and commitment to honest expressions of faith, peace-making, economic and racial justice, and LGBTQ+ inclusion.” They draw on indie-pop and gospel influences.
>> The Soil and The Seed Project, vol. 5: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany: The Soil and The Seed Project is a liturgical collective based in Harrisonburg, Virginia, writing music and at-home liturgies structured around the church year. They’ve just released their fifth collection, available for free through their website. The music portion includes, among other songs, retunes of a few traditional Advent hymns; the electro-hop “Restore Us,” a lament by Greg Yoder; a setting of the Beatitudes; and a setting of Psalm 96:1–2 in its original Hebrew by the late Rev. Dr. Anil Solanki, a former seminary professor of TSATSP director Seth Crissman’s (Crissman said Professor Solanki would often open his Hebrew exegesis classes by leading students in this song).
>> Christmas Hymns by Paul Zach: Four originals and twelve traditionals from one of my favorite sacred singer-songwriters. Most are for Christmas, but a few are more Advent-y. Taylor Leonhardt, Lauren Plank Goans, Keiko Ying, and Noah Zach provide supporting vocals. [Apple Music]