MEDINA, NY- Ten years ago, Aaron Grabowski, Music Director of Holy Trinity RC Parish in Medina, decided something was badly needed to draw the community together at the joyful and spiritual season of Christmas; something to celebrate the true meaning of the season and bring people back from the brink of rampant commercialism. So began what has become a growing and beloved annual tradition in Medina: A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols.
"As I've said many times in the past, I think people are hungry for this kind of spiritual respite at Christmastime and more so with each passing year," said Grabowski. "In a restless world, this evening of Christmas music and scripture brings a measure of peace and hope. I know for many, it annually revives the true spirit of the season. It does for me too- that's why we continue to do it."
The festival, first held on Christmas Eve 1918 in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England, is a liturgical program consisting of nine Scriptural readings telling the story of the birth of the Messiah. The program is also interspersed with seasonal choral music. Over the past one-hundred years, it has become much beloved world-wide and is celebrated in thousands of parishes around the globe at Christmastime.
The local ecumenical event has been hosted for eleven years by Holy Trinity Parish at Medina's historic St. Mary Church. This year, the event will be held on Saturday, December 21 at 7:00PM, with a prelude at 6:30PM featuring the pipe organ, string quartet and harpsichord.
This year as every year, a free will offering will benefit the community food pantry at St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church.
"Every year, the need is especially great at community food pantries during Christmastime," said Grabowski. "The generosity of those who attend Lessons and Carols greatly helps to replenish food stocks that sustain those in need. Again, Lessons and Carols helps us to open our hearts and live true meaning of Christmas."
Helping people to regain the spirit of Christmas through scripture and music is the goal of the event, and this years' musical offerings promise to fill the hearts of all in attendance with the joy of the season.
The 2019 Festival Choir will once again feature voices from the Genesee Chorale- sixteen in all. The Chorale, a Batavia-based ensemble under the direction of Ric Jones, is widely known across Western New York. The choir will be accompanied by the massive pipe organ in St. Mary's along with the Greycliffe String Quartet, a Buffalo-based string ensemble under the direction of Paul-Joseph Struckmann.
The quartet will also be featured during the prelude with two selections: Riu Riu Chiu, arr. Marshall Fine, and movements Sarabanda and Giga from the Violin Sonata in D minor, Op.5 No.7 for Violin & Harpsichord by Arcangelo Corelli.
Music selections this year include Once In Royal David's City, (arr. Stephen Cleobury), Past Three O'Clock, (arr. Charles Wood), The Lord At First Did Adam Make, (arr. Sir David Willcocks), The Holly and the Ivy, (arr. Sir Henry Walford Davies), O Come, O Come Emmanuel, (Rev. Thomas Alexander Lacey), Low, How a Rose E'er Blooming, (arr. Michael Praetorius), What Sweeter Music, (John Rutter), A Maiden Most Gentle, (Bede, arr. Andrew Carter), How Far is it to Bethlehem, (arr. Sir David Willcocks), Gesu Bambino, (Pietro Yon), While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Courtney and Tate), God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, (arr. Sir David Willcocks), All Bells in Paradise, (John Rutter), O Come All Ye Faithful, (Trans. Frederick Oakley, William Thomas Brooke, arr. Sir David Willcocks), Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, (Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholody), In Dulci Jubilo, (J.S. Bach)
The Prelude will feature Riu Riu Chiu performed by the Greycliffe String Quartet; Plein Jeu a Premiere Suite de Noels, Ou S'en Vont Ces Gais Bergers and Rotate Caeli performed by Aaron Grabowski on the pipe organ; A Minuit Fut Fait Un Reveil performed by Grabowski on the harpsichord, and two movements from the Corelli Sonata in D minor, Op.5 No.7 performed by Paul-Joseph Struckmann, violin and Grabowski on the harpsichord.
Scripture readers for the event include Ryder Jones, St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, Medina; Sophia Goyette, Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Parish, Medina; Patricia Worrad, St. John Episcopal Parish, Medina; Marc Smith, St. John RC Parish Parish, Lockport; Regina Simon, Our Lady of the Lake Roman Catholic Parish, Lyndonville; David Schubel, Trinity Lutheran Parish, Medina; James P. Punch, Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Parish, Medina; Vicar Rick Mollenkopf-Grill, St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, Medina and Rev. Bernard U. Nowak, Pastor, Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Parish, Medina.
The event is family friendly, open to all and free of charge. A "free will offering" will benefit the Community Food Pantry at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, Medina.
Saturday, December 21 at St. Mary RC Church, 211 Eagle Street, Medina. A music prelude begins at 6:30 p.m. with the Festival starting at 7:00PM. Refreshments will be served at the conclusion. The Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols is supported by the Orleans Renaissance Group, Inc.