Festival Candlelight Service, Worcester - Silent Night is being sung

2020 Youtube link:  https://youtu.be/k3gPo0qTZ64

90 Main Street, Worcester, Mass. 01608
  508 757 2708

Worcester Christmas Eve  candlelight service

Holiday Music - Lessons and Carols, Readings, The Christmas Story, Advent

12/24/2020 - 5:30 - Featuring Festival Choir, soloists, organ, & timpani)
(Come early to get a seat; doors open at 5:00pm)  

Prelude Concert begins at 5:10pm

Tonight, everyone is displaced and homeless.
Tonight, everyone searches for Bethlehem.
On this night, when the darkness comes so close,
We listen, in the stillness, for the songs of angels.
Like shepards, we aren't too sure of what is happening.
We don't know why we are so expectant.
We don't know why we long so deeply for miracles.
Tonight we pray that we might know the one we are seeking.
Tonight may we kneel like kings,
before that which is greater than any kingdom on earth.
Tonight, may we see the holy family that we are a part of.
And may we hear the music that reminds us of our truest home.

                                     - Rev. Tom Schade

The seasonal splendor of the Glory of Christmas
is celebrated in the historic sanctuary of First Unitarian Church. Through a creative blend of Christmas carols, solos, instruments, with the spoken word, the nativity story unfolds with colorful wonder. Both scriptures and contemporary readings recount the Christmas Story. Our renowned pipe organ is featured to fill our wonderfully restored sanctuary with the glorious sounds of Angels, Wisemen, and Shepherds.

We end the service with John Rutter's traditional Candlelight Carol and Silent Night as the candle of the Spirit of Christmas fills our hearts with a renewed light of hope and peace.

Will Sherwood, AAGO,ChM, Director of Music & Organist
James Haupt, Assistant Director of Music
Maria Ferrante, soprano
Charlotte Russell, soprano
Mason Tran, oboe
Patrick Chatham, cello


Youtube link:  https://youtu.be/k3gPo0qTZ64

Prelude (5:05 p.m.)               Festival Music of the Season

Song of the Birds (Traditional Catalonian, arr. Sherwood) - soprano, cello, piano
Rejoice O Greatly (Handel) - soprano, organ
A Chld Is Born (Thad Jones, arr. Sherwood) - soprano, cello, piano
Concerto in d minor (Op. 9) - Adagio (Albinoni) - oboe, organ
In the Bleak Midwinter (Thiman, arr. Sherwood) - soprano, cello, piano
As Dew In April (Richard Cumming, arr. Sherwood) - soprano, oboe, cello, piano
"Adeste Fideles" - “O Come, All Ye Faithful”
Sweet Little Jesus Boy (MacGimsey, arr. Sherwood) - soprano, oboe, cello, piano
I Wonder as I Wander (John Jacob Niles, arr. Sherwood) - soprano, oboe, piano
What Songs Were Sung (John Jacob Niles, arr. Sherwood) - soprano, oboe, cello, piano
What Child Is This (arr. Sherwood)  Soprano, oboe, cello, piano
Candlelight Carol (John Rutter)
Carol of the Bells (Mykola Leontovich)
Overture from Nutcracker Suite (Tschaikowsky) - organ



(YouTube links)



Rachmaninoff: Vocalise (cello)
Still, Still, Still (soprano, tenor, piano 4-hands)
Callahan: The Nativity (soprano, cello, piano)
Thiman: In the Bleak MidWinter (soprano, cello, piano)
What Child Is This? (cello solo)
Courtney: Let There Be Light (choir, a cappella)
“Adeste Fideles” &  “O Come, All Ye Faithful”
A Spotless Rose– Herbert Howells
I Wonder as I Wander- Carl Rutti
Joy to the World (organ fanfare and congregation)
In This Place- Will Todd 
No Small Wonder- Paul Edwards 
What Child is This?- Mark Riese 
Noel We Sing- Louis Claude Daquin
Candlelight Carol- John Rutter
Silent Night candlelighting
Carol of the Bells- Mykola Leontovich


Christmas Eve Service 2007
Christmas Eve 2007

Program Notes

Carols are among the oldest music still performed; they were popular communal songs which began as circle dances in 12th-century Europe. In the 15th and 16th centuries they evolved into “Church music” and began being performed at services and festivals (while we mainly know them as Christmas music, there are Advent and Easter carols). During the Reformation carols fell out of favor — they were considered ”too Catholic” (despite Martin Luther’s love of them) — and were not revived until the 19th-century. The Salvation Army began performing carols with their brass bands in 1878 and in 1880 they began to be reintroduced to church services. Also beginning at this time in England and Eastern Europe was the practice of caroling, groups of people going from house to house and singing with great fervor, bringing carols back to their original place as public celebrations.

– Jay Lavelle

Audio excerpts sung by the Festival Choir(MP3):

candlelight service at first unitarian

Christmas Eve Service


(See also: Annual Events, Services throughout the Worship Year, Religious Education, and Adult Religious Education)



Harp accompaniment for Christmas Eve Services

Children singing at Christmas Pageant
Children's Christmas Pageant held earlier in December

Clock Steeple on Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve Service Chandelier

Sanctuary decorated for Christmas Eve circa 1900
Sanctuary decorated for Christmas Eve circa 1900
(prior to 1938 and 2000 sanctuary restorations)

Night has fallen.
Stars beckon in an indigo and velvet sky
Somewhere a baby is being born.
Tonight, the world lazes in a love of goodness
while glories stream from heaven afar
God is meeting us, tonight, where we are.
So be not afraid, and be of good cheer,
We wish you, each and all, Very Merry Christmas -
The hopes and fears of all the years have been met,
so Rest beside the winding road
and Hear the Angels Sing.
Benediction - Christmas Eve 2000 - Rev. Tom Schade