Monday, December 24, 2012

Virtual Concert for Christmastide

Last year, I created a virtual Christmas concert featuring YouTube videos, and from what I heard from friends who "attended," it was a hit.  So I'm reprising the concept again this Christmas, with just about all of the same music from last year.

Perhaps because it's my favorite Christmas carol, I'm not satisfied with any of the videos available online for "Of the Father's Love Begotten," so I'm simply omitting it from this year's "concert."  Otherwise, I know it's bad form to have the same music year after year for one's Christmas program, but I think you'll find that these selections set an appropriately God-honoring tone and focus for pondering Christ's nativity.

Basically, just flow through the "order of worship" below, clicking on each link to open the videos in a new window, and if you want to skip certain selections, that's up to you.  Just be forewarned: you might find yourself enjoying some truly great musical masterpieces you may have never heard before!

Indeed, I invite you to consider this a worshipful experience and take about an hour of your day sometime this week and work your way through this playlist in a contemplative, yet celebratory fashion.

So, without any further ado, let us proceed with our virtual concert.

Bidding Prayer

"Oh great God, Whose divine providence has granted us salvation through Your holy Son, Whose birth we commemorate this season, we Your people bid Your help so as to worship You in spirit and truth, not just as we join in these praises to You, but as we continue throughout this week of celebration for Your many good gifts to us, not the least of which is our very reason to be joyful, our incarnate Savior.  On behalf of those who mourn, who are destitute, or who otherwise need our ministry of compassion, please be merciful during this festival season, even as You direct us to be Your hands and feet of compassion to our neighbors.  Help us to be peaceable, and to hope, and to share with others Your best Gift to us, the holy Babe of Bethlehem, even our Lord, Jesus Christ: Amen."

Opening Fanfare
J. S. Bach, "For the First Day of Christmas (Part 1)" from the Christmas Oratorio

"Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence"

"Once in Royal David's City"

The Narrative
"From the Squalor of a Borrowed Stable" by Stuart Townend

Despite its sub-par audio quality and quaint aesthetics, I chose this video because the girls who are singing come from an African orphanage, helping to represent the global breadth of God's salvific plans through the incarnation of His Son.

The Invitation
"O Come, All Ye Faithful"

Hector Berlioz, "The Shepherd's Farewell" from L'enfance du Christ

Thou must leave thy lowly dwelling, The humble crib, the stable bare. Babe, all mortal babes excelling, Content our earthly lot to share. Loving father, Loving mother, Shelter thee with tender care!

Blessed Jesus, we implore thee With humble love and holy fear. In the land that lies before thee, Forget not us who linger here! May the shepherd's lowly calling, Ever to thy heart be dear!

Blest are ye beyond all measure, Thou happy father, mother mild! Guard ye well your heav'nly treasure, The Prince of Peace, The Holy Child! God go with you, God protect you, Guide you safely through the wild!

"O Magnum Mysterium" from the ancient Matins for Christmas; this version composed in 1994 by Morten Lauridsen of Los Angeles, California

Latin text:  O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum, ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, jacentem in praesepio!  Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum. Alleluia.

English translation:  O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament, that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger!  Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!

The abrupt ending of this video cuts out the concluding prayer, so I took the liberty of crafting the last sentence:

"Eternal God, Who made this most holy night to shine with the brightness of Thy one true Light, bring us who have known the revelation of that Light on Earth to see the radiance of Thy heavenly glory through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.

"Christ, Who by His incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly fill you with peace and goodwill, and make you partakers in the joy of His love; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen."

J. S. Bach, "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" and "Et in Terra Pax" from the Mass in B Minor

Yes, we have South Koreans singing in Latin!  The Gospel isn't just for English speakers, is it?  I hope I don't need to translate, but just in case, "gloria in excelsis Deo" means "Glory to God in the highest," and "et in terra pax" means "and peace on earth."

G. F. Handel, "Hallelujah Chorus" from Messiah

(And yes, tradition dictates that you now rise to stand in honor of the King of Kings.)

I've chosen our new friends in South Korea to lead us in Handel's penultimate worship song as I rejoice with saints around our world who are celebrating the birth of our Savior this week along with us!  They sing the famous text from the Hallelujah Chorus in their native language, yet we don't need a translator to join along with them in joyous proclamation that He whose incarnation we commemorate will truly reign forever and ever!


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