Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Liturgy for Peace

On December 8, 2012, our worship ministry presented our annual Christmas Gala.  It was  time to sing big, beautiful choral music, and it was also a time of worship and prayer.  This year the gala, We Pray for Peace, was focused on praying for the peaceful kingdom to finally come into fruition around us - and to ask God what it is we should be doing to help bring that kingdom about.

The 'meat' of the program was Gloria, by Antonio Vivaldi.  One of the more accessible master works in the canon, this neopolitan setting of the Gloria text of the Catholic Mass is just a lot of fun to sing.  Our primary instrumentation for the evening was a string quartet (the Gloria just isn't right without them), as well as piano, organ, and a little acoustic guitar for fun.  As is tradition in our faith family the event is intergenerational with our Chancel and Youth choirs combining voices for the service.  The Chancel Choir carried the brunt of the Gloria, and the Youth Choir offered anthems with a little more 'contemporary' feel.  Our bell choir also participated in a mighty way.

The program is presented in three acts.  The first act, "The Prophets Knew ...",  focuses on that peaceful vision of Isaiah.  The second act, "We Call on the Lord ..." begins with a plea from the psalmist as we pray for a change to come into us and to the world.  Here we pray for the world we live in today.  In the third act, " ... And the Lord is With Us!", we tell the Christmas story.  I've been told that every sermon should end on a hopeful note, so we closed with the Hope of the Nations, born unto us.  In our telling of the Christmas story, we focused on the readings that included the angels.

I'll be including commentary and links to resources throughout the liturgy of the program.  Feel free to use any or all of this program, and may the Peace of Christ be with you as you jump into 2013!


We Pray For Peace


Processional     Wonderful PeaceGustaf Nordquist
We began the service with both choirs processing to this beautiful, hymn-like anthem while holding candles.

Do you hear the angels sing?
They’re singing Glory to God!
But that’s not all!
They’re shouting down that Peace has come!
Listen to the angels sing!

*Carol 238     Angels We Have Heard on High, stanzas 1, 3, 4      GLORIA

Anthem      Da Pacem Domine      Melchior Frank, arr. by John Leavitt
                   Give us peace, O Lord.
The Prophets Knew …
Our youth pastor shared this short introduction to the journey of the service.  It was not printed in the program.
Long before the holy family, the angels, and the shepherds welcomed Christ into the world, the people were waiting and watching for the appearance of the Messiah.  The prophets preached to the ancient Israelites to be ready, for the light was coming and the peaceful kingdom would come to fruition.  But they often forgot to keep watch, just as we now often forget that the peace of Christ is within us, and that it is our great joy to spread that good news.  Tonight we’ll sing.  Tonight we’ll pray – pray with the Saints who have gone before us for these many centuries.  Tonight we call Christ down, to renew us, to revive us, to show us the meaning of this season again – to give God the glory, for God’s great redeeming love was revealed to us at Christmas.  May we hear the angels singing tonight – “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

Gloria      movements 1 through 7      Antonio Vivaldi
Glory be to God in the highest!  And on earth peace to men of good will.  We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we adore Thee, we glorify Thee.  We give Thee thanks for Thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty and to our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son.
Old Testament Reading      Isaiah 11:1-9

Anthem      Creation Will Be At Peace      Anna Laura Page
This anthem setting of Isaiah 11:1-9 is stunningly beautiful.  It also comes with a bell choir addition to the accompaniment.

*Carol 211      O Come, O Come Emmanuel, stanzas 1, 2, 6, 7      VENI EMMANUEL
We Call on the Lord …

A Lesson from the Psalms      Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Carol      Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus      arranged by Travis Cottrell
Our youth choir presented this praise and worship setting of the advent carol by Charles Wesley.

Gloria      movements 8 through 10      Antonio Vivaldi
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father who taketh away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.  Who taketh away the sis of the world, receive our prayer.  Who sitteth at the right hand of the father, have mercy upon us!

Hymn      For the Troubles and the Sufferings of theWorld      Rodolfo Neto
This plea comes to us from Brazil and can be found in Global Praise 3.  Our youth choir lifted it up.

Solo     “The Call” from Five Mystical Songs     Ralph Vaughan Williams
This baritone solo is the original setting of UMH 164.  It works very well with organ accompaniment.

Christmas Prayers of Intercession      When the World Was Dark      Iona Community
      Sung Response      Jesus, Remember Me      Taizé Community
We used this intercessory prayer time as an opportunity to bring two monastic communities together, Iona and Taizé.  We took our time here and didn't rush through.

Anthem      We Wait for Thee      Victor C. Johnson

Offertory Prayer 

Offertory      In the Bleak Midwinter     Gustav Holst, arr. by Karen Buckwalter
A touching setting of the hymn for bell choir.  It's not overdone in the least bit.

… And the Lord is With Us!

Gloria      movements 11 and 12      Antonio Vivaldi
For thou alone art holy.  Thou alone art Lord.  Thou alone, O Jesus Christ, art most high!  Together with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.  Amen!
Up to this point the Chancel Choir had sung all of the Vivaldi.  We had the Youth Choir join us here.  I couldn't let them out of learning at least a little bit of one of the great choral works ... And they loved it.

From the Gospel of Luke 1:26-33      The Angel Appears to Mary 
Carol 200      Tell Out, My Soul      WOODLANDS

From the Gospel of Matthew 1:19-23      Joseph Dreams of the Angel      
Carol      Sing We Now of Christmas      Arr. Lloyd Larson
For bell choir.

From the Gospel of Luke 2:1-7      Jesus is Born!
*Carol 246      Joy to the World, stanzas 1, 2, 4      ANTIOCH
From the Gospel of Luke 2:8-20      And the Angels Said …
Carol      Glory in the Highest      Chris Tomlin
The youth choir offered a version of Chris Tomlin's Christmas hymn with the string quartet.  The arrangement was found at Praisecharts.com

*Carol 240                                           Hark The Herald Angels Sing       MENDELSSOHN

Pastoral Benediction

Choral Benediction      Carol of the Bells      arr. Peter J. Wilhousky


And that's a wrap!  Total time of the program came in at an hour and a half, and we wouldn't have changed a thing.  But is there anything that you would have added in or taken away?