24 December 2005

Merry Christmas!

I've started early and had the most perfect Christmas Eve church service ever, courtesy of American Public Radio. It was "A Festival of Nine Lessons" broadcast from King's College in Cambridge, England.

The nine lessons were read from the King James Version of the Bible, with clear and fluent diction, so as to be heard in the echoes of the church. After each, the choir sang pieces which were reflective of the reading, and a real aid in meditation on the sacred words. Sometimes there were hymns which the congregation sang. The only (rare) accompaniment was from the organ.

The service finished with a traditional prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, and the two traditional carols, O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

It was beautiful, reverent, solemn, and joyful. One could imagine the earliest Christians having such a service, repeating the words to one another, and singing hymns between the readings.

I do not say it's the only way. I don't mean to tout it over anyone else's worship on this holy eve of the great beginning feast of the Church year. All I know is that it was perfect for me, and I take it as a gift, one of those [there-are-no] coincidences that leave me feeling like my soul has been hugged by the One Who created and redeemed it.

May your Christmas include such a private, perfect gift from God.

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