It’s such a rush to do that last verse.
My favorite piece of music that we do over the holiday is “O, Holy Night.” We always have an in-house soloist. Usually it’s Allyson Harvey, our glorious mezzosoprano. The last couple of years he’s had a tenor sing it. Last year it was Wilson Jeffries, our new tenor soloist. Allyson’s voice is so thick – or so warm – and Wilson’s is very clear. Their renditions were totally different. They were unique but the piece sends chills up and down my spine, especially when we are finally allowed to get loud.
In the beginning, Ken keeps us very very subdued. We’re just wallpaper. We’re the background. The organ starts, Allyson comes in or whoever is doing the solo – very quiet. And it’s all about the baby Jesus. That’s the reason we’re in church. When we do “O, Holy Night,” that’s the biggest reminder to me that the reason we’re in church and we’re doing Christmas is the baby Jesus.
When we come in and we do, “Fall on your knees, oh, hear the angel voices, Oh, night divine, the night when Christ was born … ” we could be home wrapping presents, we could be assembling bicycles, we could be asleep, we could be doing dishes, we could be drinking heavily or all of the above but we’re not. We’re in church and there’s nothing about Santa in “O, Holy Night.”
At the beginning it’s so quiet; it’s just Ken. The soloist comes in; then we come in very very quietly in the first verse and then as the soloist gets a little louder we speed up and we’re allowed to increase our volume. And I know it’s not just me; other members of the choir get chills. Because at the last verse we get loud; Ken calls it “rackety.” The organ gets to open wide up. And at the end of the piece we’re all – I’m always just red in the face. I can feel that I’m blushing, because it’s such a rush to do that last verse.
The soloist – you can still hear, when Allyson does it she soars. It’s the “night divine” is the highest note of the piece. The sopranos accompany her. You can also hear her or Wilson or whatever other one of the tenors is doing it.
And that’s one of the many reasons I am so proud to sing at St. Martin’s.
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
9:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist with music
10:00 a.m. Parish Forum & Kairos
10:15 a.m. worship.together
Holy Eucharist for families with young children
11:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist
Silent morning meditation is offered at 8:15 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.
We would love to have you join us.
This Episcopal church is located in the heart of the historic neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, five blocks west of Germantown Avenue at the corner of St. Martin’s Lane and West Willow Grove Avenue.