What better way to focus our hearts on Christ; to get away from the Christmas hustle and bustle then to spend a Sunday afternoon focusing upward with traditional sacred music at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church’s Service of Advent Lessons, Anthems and Carols 4 p.m. on Sunday?
“It’s such a contrast,” said Fr. Kyle Bennett, rector of St. Mark’s. “The contrast between the simplicity of the setting and listening to the music versus the bombardment of the colors and noise of the world. This [the concert] may be the best gift you give yourself this Christmas.”
Advent is a time when many Christians focus on the first coming of Christ while they wait for His second coming. It is a distinct part of the liturgical year. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The first Sunday of Advent is also the first day of the new church year in the Anglican, Catholic, Episcopal and Lutheran traditions.
“The rector of my home parish, Church of the Redeemer, Rochester, NH, always began services on the first Sunday of Advent with, ’Happy New Year,’ ” wrote Fr. John Ineson, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church’s winter assistant priest, in the church’s weekly newsletter.
The concert is St. Mark’s seventh Advent concert. “We are so blessed to have so many talented individuals lead by a musical genius Dr. Ronald Doiron, our director of music ministries,” said church member, Kevin Fitzgerald. “He [Doiron] makes volunteers into professional singers,” said Nan Moll, St. Mark’s parish administrator. “As long as they love God, love to sing and want to sing praises to God.”
The service is in the style and tradition of the Lessons and Carols Service that is broadcast every year on Christmas Eve from King’s College Chapel, Cambridge England. Kings College developed the lessons and carols style service during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The purpose of the service is to teach and proclaim the prophecies in the Old Testament — the lesson, followed by a musical commentary or setting of the text that is sung — the carol.
“I hope they will take a sense of the beauty of the music and awe of the greatest gift God has given us,” said soprano Carol Hedman. For her the most important part of the Advent Concert is leading the congregation in worship and preparation for the Christmas season.
“I believe my voice is a gift from Him and I thank Him by worshiping with music,” she said.
“Music has been a fundamental part of Anglican worship for hundreds of years,” said choir member Doug Whittemore. “When you think about it, what we sing ... has been sung by generations of people sharing a common form of worship and celebration of the birth of Christ.” For Whittemore the music is a form of prayer.
St. Mark’s handbell choir, choir and soloists are accompanied by organ and a chamber orchestra of professional musicians. The service begins with a prelude by the handbell choir. The choir wears red robes and white surplices.
“When we see something different, we become more aware that something important is happening. So we vest and process,” said choir member Jim Goodman. “Our particular vestments are reminders of the blood spilled for our salvation with the white top signifying the purity granted in the forgiveness of sin.”
The chamber orchestra will include violin, viola, cello, flute, oboe and trumpet. The organ works include Lo, in the Time Appointed by Canadian composer Healey Willan; a new arrangement of the text Comfort, Comfort, Now My People by American composer Michael Larkin; Go Out with Joy by Hank Beebe; as well as ever-popular Advent carol arrangements by David Willcocks and John Rutter.
The featured masterwork is Antonio Vivaldi’s Magnificat in G Minor for Choir, Orchestra and Soloists. The text for the Magnificat is found in Luke and is known as the song Mary sang when she was visited by the angel Gabriel. This is the favorite piece for many in the choir.
“I liked Vivladi even before I liked classical music,” said Wally Hedman.
There is also an opportunity for all to participate through the singing of familiar advent hymns. A free will offering will be received. A wine and cheese reception will follow the concert in the Parish Hall.
The program is the first of four events offered on the new 2010-2011 Friends of Music Concert Series.
2010-2011 Second Annual St. Mark’s Concert Series
Sunday, March 6, 3 to 6 p.m. Festival of the Arts
3 p.m. Campus-wide art exhibit and food stations with a variety of music to benefit the Philippines Project
5 p.m. Full Evensong with the St. Mark’s Choir and Orchestra
Sunday, March 27, 6 p.m. Concert and Reception: Give My Regards to Broadway, performed by The Bach Ensemble Troubadours. Tickets are $25 and will be available after January 1. This is a benefit for St. Mark’s Music Ministry.
Sunday, April 17, 3 p.m. Concert and Reception
A Palm Sunday Performance of Messiah
A complete Baroque performance of Handel’s most popular oratorio
The Bach Ensemble, Soloists and Full Orchestra
Limited seating, tickets required, and are available after January 1. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
The Church Lady’s upcoming columns will focus on Christmas Eve and Christmas Services and will include prayers from the various houses of worship for Christmas.
Kathleen Tuttle, a Marco Island resident since 1987, has written articles for various non-profits for more than 25 years. She is a community volunteer, former science teacher and microbiologist. Kathleen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The greater Marco community wants to know what’s happening at your house of worship. Please send your updates to: email@example.com.
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
The church will present their Seventh Annual Advent Concert 4 p.m., today. The Service of Lessons, Anthems and Carols presented in the style and tradition of King’s College. The program features musical compositions as commentaries to Advent scriptures. The St. Mark’s Handbell Choir, the St. Mark’s Choir and soloists will be accompanied by organ and a chamber orchestra of professional musicians. There will be a free-will offering and everyone is invited to attend a wine and cheese reception in the Parish Hall following the program.
Jewish Congregation of Marco Island
The Sisterhood Luncheon, noon, on Tuesday will feature Dr. Bill Beckwith, whose book Managing Your Memory: Practical Solutions for Forgetting offers an understanding of how memory works, and how to improve memory. He will outline the differences between the effects of normal aging and memory loss and ways to improve memory ranging from the effects of memory aids to medications, supplements, food and controlling emotions. The cost is $10.00 for Sisterhood members and $12.00 for non-members. For more information contact Roberta Schwartz at firstname.lastname@example.org or the JCMI office.
St. Finbarr Catholic Community
The church will host its Annual Christmas Dinner, 5:30 p.m., Tuesday. Tickets are $20 per person for a full course dinner catered by Erin’s Isle. Tickets call Ella Heimrich, 417-5629. Tickets are also available in the parish office.
Trip to the Holy Land March 9 to 18, 2011 led by St. Finbarr Administrator Fr. Jean-Marie “Fritz” Ligonde. The tour will visit sites sacred to Christians including Bethlehem, Mount of Olives, the Sea of Galilee, the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. For additional information please call Anne Iuliano, 775-7651.
Capri Christian Church
Singer, songwriter and Christian author Lynda Randle will give a concert, 7 p.m., Thursday. Free, limited seating, please call the church to let them know you plan to attend. Love offering will be received. Randle is also part of the Gaither Homecoming Christmas Tour 2010 at the Germain Arena on Dec. 17.
Marco Presbyterian Church
The community is invited to enjoy an evening of music, humor and drama at Marco Presbyterian Church’s Family Christmas Program entitled “365 Days of Christmas Each Year”, 6 p.m., Dec. 19. The play within a play shares how we can have Jesus walk with us every hour of every day, all through the year. Refreshments will be served in the courtyard following the performance. Free.