Saturday, December 17, 2011

by candlelight, but thankfully didn't burst into flames

pilgrims at Lourdes, credit:
now this is what I'm talking about?!
the kind of candlelight procession I had in mind to begin with going in...

Candlelight Service
The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
(*what happened to ...the Baptist--nevermind it's a Catholic Cathedral here...)

3rd Sunday of Advent - aka 12/11/11


ex: of a processional candle -
that I did 'not' get to hold,
nor did the choir...
A service of 9 lessons & carols...

Now I was thinking in a different direction when I read 'candlelight' & 'carols' - was imagining an old European church full of candles all over, including from above on the chandeliers & perhaps everyone walking in receiving a candle as well to hold during the singing of the traditional carols of Christmastimes that I've grown up hearing/singing in homes or on TV or on rare occasion the streets (or I should say trying to sing, because no choir will ever be asking me to join them...)

There were candles, totally safe large round ones on the side window ledges or alcoves with perhaps glass open tops to them - didn't walk up to one so am not at all sure & also up before the altar on the inclined live greenery wreath were some taller candles lit again with what looked like smaller glass open tops around the flames...

I also found it interesting to see a wreath inside the church up at the altar, when I may have mistakeningly thought it was a Druid type idea of bringing the natural greens into the house (must read up on all this another time...)

And when the choir entered--again, no one was carrying not one candle...sigh...but their voices could be considered light of a different kind, especially inside the space of St. John's - which I'd never been inside, had only admired the classic form of the bricks on the outside...for years, perhaps more especially the most ancient oak tree right next to the church I've looked at driving by - which didn't use to be supported or surrounded by an iron fence, but it is now...

For once I arrived early, found a seat in a pew to the back - as all the front ones were taken...skimmed thru the program of the evening to find there would be singing from the Hymn Book, so took it out from it's behind the pews holder in front of me to find the pages listed so I wouldn't be flipping pages during the service...I liked seeing that there would be carols that I'd heard before & indeed those of my childhood that were sung, still not talking about Rocking Around the Christmas Tree either?!

Since I could remember at least the last time I'd been caroling, that was something I was looking forward to--being able to sing them with a group & not just inside my car driving around town...but the being in a church & for a Christmas service & a Catholic one, not just any one but a cathedral
was something I couldn't remember as well...also went alone so nobody to tell me what to do, I had to watch what everyone else was doing & thanks be to whomever put all the instructions down on the Order of Service stand/sit/sing?!

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another ex: of a processional candle...
this one a flower shape, so much more lovely
than a circle or a cup/Cup (I have never held one tho...)
Order of Service

(please silence all electronic devices) *just like at the movies

Prelude - Noel Huron

Advent Responsory (all standing) *this is the kind of instruction I appreciated the most

Cantor   Come & save us, O Lord God of hosts
Choir        "      "     "     "   "     "       "    "    "
    "         Show the light of your countenance & we shall be saved
              O Lord God of hosts
              Glory to the Father & to the Son & to the Holy Spirit
                                                                                          *opps thought it was Holy Ghost
              Come & save us, O Lord God of hosts
              Show us your mercy, O Lord
              And grant us your salvation

*if anyone were to ask me right off I would of said they were singing in Latin because I would of never gotten those words out of the choir's voices as the entered the church from the front foyer (do they call it a foyer like a regular house? am not sure...) In front of them came the incense, lovely to smell this - carried by...are they altar boys (don't get me going, why boys? are there altar girls now too?)

Processional Hymn - Veni Emmanuel
(sung by the choir in Latin) *so I wasn't imagining the Latin words being sung & no singing for us all just yet...


ex: of what I thought the choir would look like...
& also what the candlelight service would look like -
this btw is a cup/Cup processional candle holder...
(note: photo credit from Christ Church Ottawa -
found under Google Images...)

The Bidding & The Lord's Prayer
*took note that they did not include the Lord's Prayer & it's not something I say everyday, but must of heard it enough to follow along with the crowd...or if all else fails, move your lips...

First Lesson
(all my sit) *thank you

Adam & Eve rebel against God & are cast out of the Garden of Eden (Genesis iii) *there was a reader, I won't name names--but I realized after a few of them they must be regular folks asked to read, because they were in regular clothes & not in any robes...they also all did very well to stand up in this huge space & read scriptures into a microphone at the altar, no one flubbed their lines that I could tell--but then they had notes or the bible in front of them to follow right...

Carol *Yeah, finally some singing--but alas, not us, it was the choir again...
Jesus Christ the Apple Tree *a totally new one on me, never heard of this one--nor that comparison the end there was written whose words/music it was & since it said New Hampshire I figured it was from modern times & not a regular ancient carol as we know them usually...

Second Lesson
The scribe Baruch urges the people to look East because salvation is at hand (Baruch v) *another new one on me, should I admit I didn't know Baruch before...

Hymn 183 - People, Look East
(sung by all, standing...found in the gray Collegeville Hymnal in the pew racks) *again wonderful instructions & I for one needed them...but again didn't know this Hymn anymore than the previous Carol or the scribe there are perhaps for me, more than Nine Lessons going on tonight?!

Third Lesson
(all may sit)
Christ's birth & kingdom are foretold (Isaiah ix)

Carol - Noel Noubelet *written in an old text so am not positive about the spelling, could be 'Nouvelet' but at the end it helps they reference "Traditional French & Huron Carols" - so am going out on a limb here but am guessing they were then singing in French & not so much the Latin...we are afterall in Southern Louisiana & Cajun Country, where there is a Gumbo of French spoken so am not surprised something would be sung in French in the Cathedral...but was a bit taken with the line about the "ox & ass" - which made me think about the "ox & lamb" keeping time in another Carol...(if you don't know that one, it's in 'Little Drummer Boy'...)

Fourth Lesson
The prophet Micah foretells the glory of little Bethlehem. (Micah v) *oh my, more lessons, Micah? a prophet? Well, my excuse--I was never very good with remembering names...

Hymn 198 - O Little Town of Bethlehem
(sung by all, standing) *finally a Carol I know - at least the first verse & could sing it on my own, then read the hymn book diligently for the other 2 or 3 verses (which was something we never did when singing carols growing up--ever go past the 1st verse of anything?!)

O little town of Bethlehem
how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep & dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by

Yet in the darkness shineth
the everlasting light
The hopes & fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight...

And that's about it for me--there are folks I think who sing that line "hopes & dreams" of all the years instead...I know I flip flop between the two words, especially while singing in my car to the radio during the month of December - am missing that all Christmas song station on the radio too, can't seem to find one here so I've had to break out the old Christmas CD's (as I can't play the old Christmas cassettes anylonger--what to do with them? keep them until I buy another old car with a cassette player in it, maybe...nevermind, not the point--back to singing carols, flawlessly in my wait, back to singing well enough in a cathedral...)

It may also have been about this time that I found out in the next pew, one back, across the aisle, there was a man's voice that most definitely must have been asked to sing in a choir before--because he sang beautifully & without his hymn book too, from the few glances I took to see who this odd angelic singer about 'not' judging a book by it's cover, here was this large man--in of all the things a hunter's green & tan cammo angels on earth do wear all sorts of clothes, I'm here to tell you--hmmm...

Fifth Lesson
(all may sit) *oh were we standing
The peace that Christ will bring is foreshown (Isaiah xi)

A Spotless Rose *another one, haven't a clue...after following along reading I had the strangest connection of Bette Midler singing "The Rose" - curious, but there is a rose & if not snow then a winter's cold being mentioned...oh my, looking up the YouTube of Bette's only to find out Janis Joplin sang the song too or was in a movie of the same name - enough a googling I will go tonight the end of this Carol '...words, 14th century origin...'

Sixth Lesson
Announcement of the Birth of Jesus (St. Luke i)

Joys Seven *again w/the fancy script, if I count all the 'first good joy' & 'the next good joy' in the lines then I come up with 7 joys, so a good guess on the title...& it's an English Traditional Carol...

Seventh Lesson
The whole world waits for Mary's answer (Homily iv, St. Bernard)

Motet * why this is not a Carol or a Prayer, I don't know-or I don't know the word 'motet' (are we back to Latin again, why confuse me--there's English, there's French, there's Latin...all in a night at the Cathedral...fa lah lah lah lah lah lah lah...) Wiki to the rescue: a polyphonic composition based on a sacred text and usually sung without accompaniment. [Middle English, from Old French...]

Ave Maria
Hail, Mary, full of grace...
words, St. Luke, 1:28, 42

*here I always think of Schubert's Ave many renditions of this song... Pavarotti... Callas... Carpenter... Dion... Celtic Woman...Beyonce...Bocelli...Bono (?) - YouTube away...& why I get Oh Holy Night confused with this title sometimes, which has my most fav line/phrase/words of all time in a Christmas Carol/Song prob & that's "fall on your knees" (by that time in the song, it usually raises the hair on my arms kind of tingling feeling going on all over to the top of my head...sigh...)

O Holy Night
Christmas Carol Lyrics

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Link to find this & all the carols...

*This Carol was not on the program, but why not? so many, so little time I'm guessing...

Eighth Lesson
God has revealed his love through his Son. (Epistle to Diognetus iii)

Hymn 224 - God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen *Yeah, another Carol - hymn? & I know this one too...but I've always sung it with a 'Ye'...
(sung by all, standing)

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from satan's powers when we've gone astray
Oh Oh Tidings of Comfort & Joy, Comfort & Joy
Oh Oh Tidings of Comfort & Joy...

*noting again, 1 verse wonder--that's me, for the longest time growing up I had no idea there was even more than 1 verse to any Christmas Carol?!

Ninth Lesson
(all remain standing)
St. Matthew tells of the coming birth of Jesus. (St. Matthew i)

Carol - I Saw Three Ships *so surprised, found myself asking why now, why this song & did I remember this was a fav version of this song, so far, may be when Sting sang it on a Christmas album - A Very Special Christmas 3 - 1997...

photo credit: borrowed from
from article by Steve Spears, about Name the most obscure Christmas songs of the 80's
& I Saw Three Ships by Sting is on his list...

Link to YouTube of the "I Saw Three Ships" song - sung by Sting...

or an even better another Cathedral...with a fiddle... bagpipe... cello... harp... guitar... drum... mandelin... more violins... & I can't name all the instruments right now... or all the backup singers, except that's Sting again leading the song...

(all may sit)

I saw three ships come sailing in,
   On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day,
I saw three ships coming sailing in,
   On Christmas Day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three?
(*repeat chorus...On Christmas Day...after each line--I think...)

Our Savior Christ & His lady.

Pray, whither sailed those ships all three?

O, they sailed into Bethlehem.

And all the bells on earth shall ring.

And all the angels in heaven shall sing.

And all the souls on earth shall sing.

Then let us all rejoice amain! *OK, so I didn't know that it ended in that word 'amain'

English Traditional Carol

Closing Prayer & Blessing
(all standing)

Recessional Hymn 173 - O Come, Divine Messiah
(sung by all) *it's a good thing we had a hymn book, especially me, especially for these hymns I don't remember ever hearing before...

Postlude *a what? nevermind...
Toccata on "Il est ne', le divin enfant" *OK, now am thinking this is more French--they end in French...of course?!

Traditional French Christmas Carol...

Il est né le divin enfant,
Jouez hautbois, résonnez musette.
Il est né le divin enfant,
Chantons tous son avènement.
Depuis plus de quatre mille ans
Nous le promettaient les prophètes,
Depuis plus de quatre mille ans
Nous attendions cet heureux temps.
Une étable est son logement,
Un peu de paille est sa couchette,
Une étable est son logement,
Pour un dieu quel abaissement.
O Jésus, ô roi tout puissant,
Tout petit enfant que vous êtes,
O Jésus, ô roi tout puissant,
Régnez sur nous entièrement.

He is born the divine child,
Play oboe, resonate musette.
He is born the divine child,
Let's all sing his accession.
For more than four thousand years
We've promised by the prophets,
For more than four thousand years
We've been waiting for this happy time.
A stable is his lodging,
A bit of hay is his little bed,
A stable is his lodging,
For a god such a humble thing.
O Jesus, o all powerful king,
Such a little child you are,
O Jesus, o all powerful god,
Rule completely over us.

via link...

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About this Service *printed on the back of the program/order of service

"The Service of Nine Lessons & Carols" was first held on Christmas Eve 1918 at the Chapel of Kings College in Cambridge, England. Since it's first radio broadcast in 1928 the service has been adopted by nearly every Christian denomination & is a favorite ecumenical service during the holiday season. The service is modeled after the ancient monastic office of Matins in which nine readings from Scripture are followed by nine musical responses. Through story and song the service recounts salvation history from the first moment of our disobedience until the birth of the Messiah.  The pattern of the service reflects the season's growing anticipation, both of the first coming of Christ and of that day when the prayer 'thy kingdom come' is finally and fully answered. Since the church does not celebrate the birth of Christ until Christmas Eve, the mood of this service is one of hopeful expectation rather than joyful exuberance."

*and I've lost count on how many lessons I've had for the evening service - if nothing else I still love Love LOVE Christmas Carols, 1st Verses the most, & I still want more candlelight...maybe a trip to Europe next Christmas season & a visit to another - more ancient - Cathedral...Notre Dame? hmmm...I've been inside to visit, but I think the actual oldest church in Paris (if you don't ask too many questions to nail that oldest - when started/finished/reconstructed - or church idea down) is not the famous named one but another & I've been inside that one to visit it as well, St-Germain-des-Prés (where once again I'd lit a candle for my military sons...having other moments of being thankful am in a cathedral lighting candles whilst not being Catholic & especially not instantly combusting whilst doing so - it must of been OK'd by my goodly motherly intentions right?!)

*please Please PLEASE no one take any offense what so ever from my comments on my evening experience of lessons & carols... that just happened to have been in a cathedral...I was in it for the love of Christmastime, Candlelight & for the singing of Christmas Carols, thank you & goodnight...

Peace be upon you

...came to mind to sign off with this--which is what they say in Doha, Qatar - as an ExPat you get to hear this in English & in Arabic...taking French lessons there for 7 weeks (No, don't ask me anything in French) I found out there are a lot of words - a long list of words - of Arabic words taken from the French (or was that vice versa...) some student I was...I still am--a student/a learner...just not of French/nor Arabic either...nor any other language, tho I tried really/Really hard at learning Spanish in PLC, Venezuela...(again--No, don't ask me anything in Spanish either...unless it sounds like 'baby talk' - then maybe I can answer you back...maybe...if you give me a minute--or two...)

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