advent and christmas worship
at st. mark's lutheran church
Wednesday, December 17
6:45 pm - Advent Worship (preceded by a light supper at 6:00 pm)
Wednesday, December 24
5:00 pm - Christmas Pageant
St. Mark's annual Christmas pageant is a warm, festive, and family-friendly tradition - the perfect way to share the joy of Christmas with children in a welcoming and inclusive community. We will sing favorite familiar carols, invite children to come forward to see the Baby Jesus and lead everyone in song, and end the service in candlelight.
7:00 pm - Carols, Communion and Candlelight
Restore your spirit with sacred readings and Holy Communion.
10:00 pm - Special Christmas Eve Music
J.S. Bach’s shepherd Pastorella in F (BWV 590) and Johann Schelle’s brilliant cantata Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar (From Heaven Came the Angel Throng), with St. Mark’s Choir and Orchestra
10:30 pm - Festive Choral Communion with Carols and Candlelight
Center and connect with the sacred at this late evening service.
Thursday, December 25
10:00 am - Festive Holy Communion on Christmas Day
About Our Special Christmas Eve Music
Martin Luther's beloved Christmas hymn From Heaven Above (Vom Himmel hoch) first appeared in 1535, with fifteen verses. Luther's slightly later Christmas hymn From Heaven Came the Angel Throng (Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar), with only 6 verses, has the same meter as From Heaven Above and was intended to be sung to the same melody, which Luther had composed himself. Johann Schelle (1648-1701) set this shorter version verbatim as a Christmas cantata during his time (1677-1701) as Cantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig.
It is possible that Bach became familiar with this work when he accepted the Leipzig Cantor position in 1723. It is concise and exceptionally festive, with trumpets, trombones, oboes, organ and strings joining the five-part choir. A pastorale is a piece of music that deals with "pastoral" themes; primarily shepherds and shepherdesses, and as such, are often associated with Christmas. Some pastorale are essentially miniature operas and can be quite theatrical, others are entirely instrumental, imitating music shepherds might play to calm their sheep, or entertain each other. Bach's Pastorella (BWV 590) for organ is an example of the instrumental type. Cast in four movements, the first could easily be a lullaby, followed a dance, a song, and finally an even livelier dance.
On Christmas Eve come at 10:00 pm to hear Bach's shepherd music followed immediately Schelle's brilliant Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar, a lovely musical depiction of the Christmas story.