In my opinion, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year! There is just a feeling of cheer in the air that is unique to the season. I love that there are lights and decorations everywhere. I love the special drinks at Starbucks, but my favorite thing is the music.
Last year, I missed out on being a part of the entire Advent season at First Baptist because I was at home recovering from heart surgery. I watched the services each week, and I missed being here so much. My first service back was the candlelight service, and as much as I enjoyed being able to sit in the congregation and listen to all the beautiful music, my new heart longed to be at the organ… so I have an entire season to make up for this year, and it begins this week!
On Sunday, I am kicking off our Advent season with an arrangement of one of my favorite carols: “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice!” I love this carol because as a little boy, it was my favorite track on my family’s favorite Christmas tape. (The recording is called A Quiet Christmas by Mark Gasbarro. We played it constantly throughout the holiday season, and I highly recommend it.) I realize that Advent is supposed to be the time of waiting for Jesus and that technically songs about Christmas are supposed to be saved for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but I am glad that First Baptist Greenville is not concerned with the technicalities because I love Christmas music!
My favorite thing to play on the organ is a toccata. The fast finger work and generally loud registrations bring me so much joy, so for the offertory, I am playing a toccata setting of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” This festive piece builds to a huge climax as it ends with “tidings of comfort and joy.” It is a celebration of the truth of Christmas, and a perfect way to begin the season.
Finally, I plan to end the service with an arrangement of “Joy to the World.” The setting is very much a reflection of the hymn’s lyrics. It is exuberant and full of joy.
In addition to raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, now you know a few of my favorite things, but I have a few more. I am so thankful that I am able to be back at my favorite church celebrating Christmas with my favorite people…and I am happy to be doing it in my favorite place: at the organ!