Sunday, December 14, 2008

First Baptist Church of Washington DC holds 52nd Annual Candelight Carols Service

Today, December 14, 2008, the historic First Baptist Church of the City of Washington D.C. at 16th and O Sts NW (about ½ mile directly north of the White House) held its 52nd Annual Candlelight Carols Service at 4 PM EST.

The concert started with brass ensemble carols adapted by Jim Lucas, and handbell choir carols adapted by Charles Maggs, Robert Hieber, Robert Ivey, and Gary R. Smoke.

The Runnymede Singers performed music by William Byrd (“The Earl of Salisbury Carol”) and Modes Hogan (“Hear My Prayer”).

The Collegium Musicum of the Friday Morning Music Club performed music by Morten J. Luvran, Tomas Luis de Victoria, and Lodovico di Grossi. The Friday Morning Music Club was active when I took piano lessons in the 1950s.

One congregational carol hymn “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is by a well known romantic composer, Felix Mendelssohn. The music actually comes from the 1840 cantata “Festival Song.”

The climax of the concert was the ten-minute cantata “Gloria in Excelsis” by Florence Jolley (adapted by Lara Haggard) with brass, timpani, organ and combined choirs. The music was loud and virile, somewhat modal and British in sound, and resembled some of the more stirring choral works of Ralph Vaughn Williams (especially the music from "Hodie" (the Christmas Cantata) or even from “Toward the Unknown Region”). I find very little about the composer online.

The Church will soon make a DVD available of the service.

Second picture: The current sanctuary building opened on Christmas Day, 1955. The older building was present during the time I was born (1943) and started attending; I still remember the sanctuary from the Truman years.

The first picture (above) incorporates the baptistry (behind the red curtain), in which I (at age 12) was baptized with my mother on January 29, 1956. Tonight, the nativity scene was placed in the baptistry during the closing "Silent Night" benediction and epilogue.

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