By Marilyn Tinnin
Have Yourself a Merry Christmas!
Christmas traditions are cherished through generations. Those unchanging rituals are comforting because of their familiarity and at the same time, they are as fresh as the fragrance of freshly cut evergreen year after fleeting year.
Christmas music is like that. What a much-anticipated part of celebrating the birth of Jesus! Indeed, churches have traditions just as families do. First Presbyterian Church, organized in 1837, is one of the capital city’s oldest downtown churches rich in traditions where generations of families worship together for a lifetime. Their annual presentation of “Lessons and Carols,” performed in mid-December, has followed the same format for the past 45 years, though never stale and never old! Director, Reverend Bill Wymond, has been a principal from the beginning—as a Belhaven University student, he was organist.
The late Dr. Henry Ford, a legendary member of the Belhaven Music Department, and Bill collaborated on those early concerts. Bill’s inspiration came when he attended a performance at Kings College, Cambridge, during his college years. He was profoundly moved by their Lessons and Carols, an annual event began in 1918. The sight of the red-robed choir processing down the aisle, the sound of the majestic “Once in Royal David’s City” accompanied by full orchestra created a sense of awe and worship that young Bill would never forget.
All these years later, the framework is unchanged, and the sight and sound still give goosebumps to all who are there! Always called “Lessons and Carols,” the service at First Presbyterian consists of Bible readings that tell the gospel story from the fall of Adam through the Old Testament prophecies and the promise fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. Each lesson is separated by musical offerings that reiterate the lessons.
The musical selections include arrangements of some of the ancient and well-known hymns and carols and also some of the finest new anthems Bill has scoured the country and across the seas to find!
If you are in search of a most reverent and excellent worship experience that will touch your heart this year, put this program on your calendar. There are two performances on Sunday, December 17, one at 4 p.m. and another at 6 p.m. But do come early! The sanctuary gets full! But so worth the effort! Guaranteed!
And here’s another activity for the family. Even the littlest member of your family will love it! Lakeshore Church at 6880 Siwell Road in Byram is presenting a live nativity scene free to the public. This will be offered Saturday, Dec. 15 and Sunday, Dec. 16, 6–9 p.m. both nights. Titled “The Way of the Nativity,” the presentation will feature multiple scenes depicting the key events that led up to Jesus’ birth. Using actors and live animals, these stories are brought to life. The church will provide an audio CD that will provide the narrative for your journey.
Pastor Jay Frazier says “We hope that people from Byram and the surrounding area will come and enjoy our presentation and through it, they will find the true meaning of Christmas. And we are delighted we can offer this free to the public.” For more information, see Lakeshoremc.org.