Long before there were Christmas parties, turkey dinners, Christmas trees and lights, prior to services at midnight by glow of candlelight there was Christmas music. It goes back to the Angelic choir on the very night of Christ's birth stirring the hearts of Bethlehem shepherds with a song that told them of the birth of a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. The song was life and put a spring in their step as the shepherds set off to see the One whose birth had been made known to them.
Life at Yorkminster Park is blessed with music and song as some of the finest choirs in the country rehearse here in the evenings and our noonday recitals feature brilliant upcoming instrumentalists. But at Christmas it is as if the angels have returned.
Sometimes the music is offered as part of a service set in the context of prayer and worship like the beautiful Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols our choir will offer on December 21st at 4:30 p.m., a service that goes back almost one hundred years to the first Christmas after the end of World War One.
This Sunday at 4:30 p.m. it will be, Carols by Candlelight, a choral service held here since the Depression of the 1930's when a remarkable gift of candlesticks was made to the church to encourage us to look to Jesus as the light in the midst of a dark time. The choral music and the carol singing at both of these services rank as high points in our church year.
On other occasions the music is offered in the form of a concert like our City Carol Sing of last Saturday which will be broadcast in an edited form on CITY TV at 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve, but can be seen on our website in its entirety at http://www.yorkminsterpark.com/gather/webcast/index.php?id=316 Watch it and be thrilled with more than just the music and singing.
We have the privilege of hosting three other remarkable Christmas concerts offered by the great choirs of our city. On December 10, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir will be presenting their stirring Festival of Choirs with the National Staff Band of the Salvation Army. There are still tickets available at http://www.tmchoir.org/festival-of-carols/ but if you are out of town or simply unable to come, a generous donor has made it possible for to have the joy of watching this great concert live online Wedensday, December 10 at 7:30 p.m. EST http://new.livestream.com/accounts/7071993/FestivalofCarols
On Saturday, December 13 at 7:30 p.m., the Amadeus Choir will be here for their annual Christmas concert 'Sure on this Shining Night.' Tickets are still available at http://www.amadeuschoir.com/
Next Tuesday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m., I will have the great privilege of offering the narration with the Orpheus Choir and Hannaford Street Silver Band as they offer Welcome Christmas 2. Tickets are still available at http://www.orpheuschoirtoronto.com/2014/08/28/welcome-christmas-ii/
With all the services, concerts and rehearsals there are times when one might shut their eyes and hear the echoes of angels. I pray the music and services of Christmas will warm our hearts, put a spring in our step and draw us ever closer to Christ.
Have a truly Merry Christmas!