I have a “thing” about worship services, particularly at Christmas and Easter. Since music is my primary mode of worship, on those holy days, I really enjoy a service that’s heavy on sacred and inspirational music, with a bit of scripture tossed in the mix.
In my prior incarnation as a Church Lady Choir Director, with 45 quite talented people under my baton, I got to write several such services. And since this one is just sitting around in my hard drive, why not share it, right? Details after the jump…
The pdf has the full narration and program; most of the music can be downloaded and printed free of charge.
From the LDS hymnal, available on-line at the LDS Church Music site (just launch the Interactive Music Player):
Prelude: Silent Night, any favorite arrangement, played while the choir assembles or the congregation settles.
Cast Thy Burden Upon the Lord (#110): sung a cappella by the women, this song speaks of the burden of faith, anticipating the birth of Christ.
O Come O Come Emmanuel: download an arrangement free at Sally Deford Music. Another song of longing for the Savior, tremendously powerful! Substitute your favorite arrangement as needed.
Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow (#242): the piano tolls four bass chords, then the men sing melody/harmony a cappella. This song announces the birth of Christ, and should be properly regal.
Praise to the Lord, The Almighty (#72): And the heavens break loose with angelic choirs! The piano should give as minimal an intro as possible, ideally just a note for pitch. Keep the choir and accompanist quite up-tempo (as in, 155-160, nice and bright!) through the whole song; there’s a tendency to want to drag off a bit at the end of the second and third verses. Singing according to the punctuation helps a lot. Beat the tenors with sticks if they try lag.
Away in a Manger (#206): choir and congregation on this one; keep a standard arrangement for the congregation’s sake, but feel free to have the choir do some fun flourishes if you like.
Sleep, Little Jesus (#47 LDS Children’s Hymnal): Mary’s solo. Choose someone with a light, youthful voice.
With Wondering Awe (#210): choir and congregation again. I do feel it important to keep fairly up-tempo with hymns in general (I think that hails from the German branch of the family; we like to march a lot), and this one is no exception; don’t let it get funereal.
O Come, All Ye Faithful (#202): standard arrangement, but make it majestic and grand, a true call to the faithful, with rejoicing voices. Get funky and do the first verse in Latin, then repeat in English and carry on. Again, get the tempo moving… dare I suggest somewhere in the range of 130? If you’re blessed with an energetic pianist, use ’em… there are some gorgeous little runs and trills that can be slipped in to make this one of the most exuberant, effective hymns in Christendom.
Joy to the World (#201): choir and congregation, standard arrangement, and… yep, keep it peppy. There’s no point singing a grudging Jooooooy tooooooo the wooooooooooooooooorld, the Loooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrd issssssssssss cooooooooooooooooooome (eventually.) The congregation has been listening this whole time; surely they’ve figured out you’re going to demand a bit of Christian vigor by now.
Too late for use this year, I know… but maybe next year?