A Candlelight Carol Service

IMG_1233_st Early Sunday evening was the Christmas Candlelight Carols Service at First Baptist DC. The choir (of which I am a part), joined the Calvary Baptist Choir, the Friday Morning Music Club, and the Runnymede Singers (no website), to sing such Christmas greats as Gustav Holst’s “Christmas Day” medley (a rather fast and challenging piece) and “Salvation is Created” (English translation of Pavel Tschesnokoff’s Spasyeniye Sodyelal).

Choir was a bit short on tenors, so I moved up from my regular bass/baritone to help out the tenors with the higher, reedier aspect of my voice. Quite a challenge, since the aforementioned pieces have some fairly high tenor parts, which I strained to reach. Thankfully my voice handled it okay without lapsing into a broken “Miss Piggy” falsetto.

Probably the funniest part of the evening came just five minutes before the service started, while we were sitting in the back of the sanctuary, preparing for the processional. Jeff, our hyperactive always cool and impeccably composed operations guy, suddenly came up to me and David Hughes, one of the other tenors (great guys, both of them, I must tell you about these people some day), and told us to hurry back to the narthex ASAP. You must remember, we were just a few minutes from the processional, but we went back to the narthex anyway, where those long candle lighter rods were handed to us and hurriedly ignited, and we were told that we would be the candle-lighting acolytes for the evening, since whomever was in charge of such affairs had forgotten to get altar boys/girls to do it, and we were already in choir robes, so we would look acolyte-ish.

So David and I processed to the front of the church, and lit the candles on the chancel, by the pulpit, and on the Advent wreath. It’s clumsy, annoying work, because the flame on the candle-lighting rod thingy (someone tell me what the ecclesiastical name for it is, please) is extremely tiny, and must be held to the wick for a long time to transfer flame. It didn’t help that the wicks on the pulpit candles were new and untrimmed, so they needed extra-long heating. Plus, we forgot that it was the third, and not the fourth, Sunday of Advent, so we lit four of the Advent candles by mistake.

All this happened in front of the waiting congregation. It was like a second childhood. A sudden and exhilarating, horribly, embarassingly, exposed second childhood.

But we pulled it off, and hurried back to the narthex, and everyone was happy for our acolyte work, and we joined the choir and processed, and the music went swimmingly, and our pastor’s reading of Luke’s Nativity went wonderfully as he read it by candlelight held by two young acolytes as they slowly walked from the back of the church to the front. (Acolytes too young to handle lighting the candles David and I lit at the start of the service, I suppose.) And if you missed it, well, too bad, but next Christmas will be First Baptist DC’s 50th Candlelight Carols service, so I’m telling you to mark your calendars for it now, okay?