Durham News: Community

On Faith: Services in abundance as holiday draws near

By Flo Johnston

Advent, the season in the Christian church calendar of waiting and readying to mark the time when God did the unexpected and reached into the world with the gift of a Christ child, is nearing its end.

Christians believe this God-man was born with marching orders from His heavenly Father, accounting for His life, death and resurrection, events that are at the heart and soul of what being a follower is all about.

For Christians, it is a time of joyous celebration and gratitude and Christmas Eve services with tradition at their core are in abundance in the Triangle area.

Live from England

First Presbyterian Church, 305 E. Main St. in downtown, is offering the live broadcast from King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England, of a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

The live broadcast will be streamed into the church sanctuary at 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve morning.

This traditional worship service led by the resident Choir of Men and Boys from Cambridge, began in 1918 and has grown in popularity into a worldwide tradition in celebration of Christmas.

First Presbyterian began the live stream of the service last year to allow people to come to a central location to worship together and with others around the world.

“I love that I’m not alone in my house tuning into the radio, but instead am with others in a glorious sanctuary singing Christmas carols and hearing the traditional story of Christmas,” said Kathy Parkins, the church’s minister of music.

This service begins with the clear resonant voice of a solo boy treble singing, “Once in Royal David’s City.” Nine biblical lessons follow, read by citizens of Cambridge town and college foretelling the story of Jesus’ birth. Interspersed with the lessons, the choir sings Christmas anthems, including annually a newly composed work premiered at this service. The congregation also joins in singing traditional carols.

First Presbyterian’s Christmas Eve worship with Holy Communion and candle lighting will take place at 5 p.m. in the sanctuary.

The public is invited to all these events.

Lessons and Carols

Duke Chapel’s traditional Christmas Eve service of Lessons and Carols will begin at 11 p.m. with an instrumental prelude beginning at 10:30 p.m. and a sermon from Duke Chapel Dean Luke Powery.

The service will be broadcast live in most parts of the state on Time Warner Cable News, channel 14 or 200.

Duke Chapel also has a 2 p.m. interactive children’s service and a 5:30 p.m. service with Christmas carols, the Durham Children’s Choir and the Amalgam brass ensemble.

All the services are held in Page Auditorium and are free and open to the public. Attendees of the late service should plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early.

‘Messiah’ CD set

Duke Chapel has released a new recording of George Frederic Handel’s “Messiah.”

The oratorio was recorded live last year in Duke Chapel and features the chapel choir, conductor Rodney Wynkoop, chapel organist Christopher Jacobson, Orchestra Pro Cantores and acclaimed soloists.

“This recording from our 2014 ‘Messiah’ performances in the chapel provides an updated version of this tradition that has long been beloved both here at Duke and beyond,” said Wynkoop, director of music at Duke Chapel. “With some of our favorite soloists and the wonderful orchestra that has long performed with the chapel choir, the deeply meaningful story of the ‘Messiah’ as told through Handel’s extraordinarily inventive music has been brought to life with fervor and passion.”

The 143-minute concert recording is available as a two-CD set through Duke’s Gothic Bookshop.

Duke Chapel “Messiah” performances are a tradition that stretches back to 1933, two years before the chapel was officially dedicated. The chapel choir’s last publically available recording of the oratorio was made in 1999. The 2014 concert featured on the new CD was broadcast live in countries on five continents through a collaboration between the chapel and the Christian media organization Trans World Radio.

The new recording includes soloists Mary Wilson, soprano; Monica Reinagel, alto; William Hite, tenor; and Grant Youngblood, bass. The audio production engineers are Collin J. McKinney and Robert L. Musser from VoChor Inc. Joshua Smith from Quartz Studio designed the CD jacket.

Learn more about the Duke Chapel Choir at chapel.duke.edu/worship/music/chapel-choir.

More services

▪ Hillsborough Presbyterian Church, 102 W. Tryon St., has issued an invitation to its 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve service of carols and scripture lessons and to enjoy cider and cookies after the service. This is a family-friendly event and will include singing of traditional carols and Holy Communion..

▪ Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4907 Garrett Road, will mark Christmas Eve with a pageant at 5 p.m. titled “Would You Like to Hold the Baby.” The service at 7:30 p.m. will include readings from Matthew and Luke, as well as modern reflections and carols with a choir and jazz ensemble.The end of both these services will feature passing the candlelight from person to person and singing “Silent Night.” On Sunday, Dec. 27, the 10:30 a.m. service will explore the seven principles of Kwanzaa along with Unitarian Universalist principles. Kwanzaa is a non-religious cultural holiday honoring the ancestry of African Americans.

▪ Christus Victor Lutheran Church, 1615 East N.C. 54, will have a 7 p.m. family worship service that includes a children’s sermon. A candlelight service at 10 p.m. led by Pastor Terry Dorsey, will feature lessons and carols. Regular worship at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, will include Holy Communion.

▪ North East Baptist Church, 3204 N.C. 55, will hold a Christmas Day worship service from 11 a.m. to noon. The public invited.

Contact Flo Johnston at fjohnston314@ gmail.com or call 910-361-4135.