Last Friday night we went to Chorus pro Musica's annual holiday concert at Old South Church. We have two friends who are singers and we look forward to this performance every year. The singing is superb, and the program is usually varied to include early music and carols and songs from other cultures as well as a few contemporary selections. The audience also has to stand up and belt out carols periodically, which I love.
This year they sang "Emerald Stream," an "environmental hymn" written by Seth Houston on his 17th birthday as he was taking a month-long wilderness canoe trip.
The highlight, though, is the candlelight procession. The church is in darkness as two rows of singers pass two little flames along, lighting one candle from another, and when all their candles are lit they hold them and sing. For me, that's when the Christmas spirit descends and the season truly begins. Here's a cellphone recording of their candlelit "Silent Night" from a few years ago. Even with bad production values, it gives you a sense of how lovely and moving their music is.
A Gothic Revival masterpiece, Old South is beautiful always, but especially at Christmas:
We often sit in the balcony, but this year we were on the floor. We noticed this fellow in the row ahead of us:
My initial thought was that one of Boston's Revolutionary War heroes had come back from Beyond to rescue democracy, like the Ghost of Christmas Past. But then I realized he was wearing a red coat.
So he's a British soldier. I was still glad to see him. Even British monarchy would be an improvement over what probably lies ahead. And he seemed like a gentleman, even though he put on his hat before he left the church.