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A Happy and Healthy Family

Last week, feeling a little antsy on my long train ride from Connecticut to Philadelphia, I typed “Family at Christmas” into Google search. Much to my horror, among the top three hits were “How to survive family Christmas” and “Estrangement from family at Christmas: How we cope.” After a burst of sadness, my next reaction was, “Thank heavens we can look forward to a concert on December 11 that will be presented by the entire family of BMPC choirs.” Best of all, this is a happy and healthy family that ranges in age from 5 to 95. That’s not something to survive, but something to celebrate.

For most of us, Christmas is a time of coming together, of letting bygones be bygones, of good wishes, merriment, larger-than-usual hearts, better moods, and plenty of memorable music. This coming Sunday, when our family of singers and ringers joins forces with the formidable Philadelphia Brass and your soaring voices, the healthy spirit of the season will shine throughout the sanctuary.

On Sunday we will acknowledge the season of Advent – that time of people waiting in darkness, hoping for the light to shine. We will celebrate Mary with her magnificent words, “My soul doth magnify the Lord…” We will unite all voices in several venerable carols. Children will sing of light; older adults will sing of community; all voices will shine light into the darkness. You’ll hear “old favorites” and new works that some day will be referred to as “old favorites.”

Among them is a new work by Michael Stairs, commissioned by BMPC for the occasion. I will close with the text that Michael chose, by that great Victorian poet, Christina Rossetti:

“Holy Innocents”

Sleep, little Baby, sleep,
The holy Angels love thee,
And guard thy bed, and keep
A blessed watch above thee.
No spirit can come near
Nor evil beast to harm thee:
Sleep, Sweet, devoid of fear
Where nothing need alarm thee.

The Love which doth not sleep,
The eternal arms around thee:
The shepherd of the sheep
In perfect love has found thee.
Sleep through the holy night,
Christ-kept from snare and sorrow,
Until thou wake to light
And love and warmth to-morrow.