A big Advent tradition at Perkins is the Lessons and Carols service put on jointly by the Seminary Singers (Dr. Hawn at the helm) and Meadows Chorale (led by Dr. Elrod, my conducting professor). We've been preparing most of the term for this big service which is done twice, in the afternoon and evening. It's a tradition of the Seminary Singers to have a dinner together in between services, with a white-elephant gift exchange. It was a beautiful service filled with eclectic music. We sang a very cool arrangement of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", a little bit "blue Christmas", with added soprano sax. We also did a beautiful setting of one of John Thornburg's texts, "Look Up at the Stars" - not even published yet. In fact - the copies we were singing from had DO NOT COPY splashed across the front in huge grey letters. Apparently we actually did have permission to sing from the photocopies, but... we started calling the piece "The Big Do Not Copy" whenever it was time to turn to it.
We also did Hope for Resolution, which David and I remember from BCC days. It blends "Of the Father's Love Begotten" with a Xosa melody. We had to do one of those "clicks" in the language... that caused much hilarity during practice as we were rather terrible at it. People would either drop it completely, or sort of half get it but it wouldn't sound like much... one time I heard someone come in with it about half a bar after the fact... ha ha. We were pretty good at it by the end, though! Dr. Hawn had it all worked out that the soprano sax would come back in with the hymn tune as we sang the African... then we'd come to a hummed major chord at the end... and the soprano sax would throw in the first two phrases of "O Come O Come Emmanuel" over it, in the minor mode... oooOOoohh....
The Meadows Chorale also sounded beautiful, and did a variety of pieces as well. My favourite though (no bias) was Eleanor Daley's piece "The World's Desire"... ooh and there was also a gorgeous setting of "Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming." The Seminary Singers were up at the front this year, and the Meadows Chorale were in the balcony at the back. This was a big deal; apparently this was the Seminary Singers' first turn up front. People were joking about not being able to wear their comfy shoes this time.
Of course, this was all happening amid the very end of term, when we were all going crazy with papers, tests and performances. Here's Nick looking a little done in by the term.
The dinner in between was delicious, and we had a hilarious time with the gift exchange. I hadn't done one of these before; you're supposed to pick a piece of miscellaneous clutter from your home and giftwrap it. Then you take turns picking, and laughing at the tackiness or bizarreness of each re-gifted item. Of course, someone inevitably throws in some chocolates or a bottle of wine. So, the next person gets to decide if they want to take a new gift, or steal someone else's already opened gift. I actually got a very nice book out of it; have a look at what David got (it plays music and "dances"). Ulston scored the bottle of wine.
It's so fun having David singing in the choir. People were allowed to bring spouses to the dinner and there were various "hangers on" present - but David's part of the club!