Today was the ecumenical "Festival of Lessons and Carols" hosted by one of the churches in a nearby community. With communities so small, church congregations are tiny and church choirs almost non-existent, so aside from congregational carol-singing, the music is provided by small instrumental ensembles. For years I was part of this service. This year, apparently, my services were not required.
Erin and her quartet played instead. They did a pretty good job on a bunch of repertoire they'd thrown together with only a handful of short rehearsals. With all the candles the temperature inside the church was much more amenable to stringed instrument playing than at their last gig.
This is our little dose of formal Christianity each Christmas. The service is lovely. First there's some introductory music (Corelli's "Christmas Concerto" in this case), a welcoming poem and prayer. Then follow ten separate Old and New Testament readings which tell the story of the birth of Christ, interspersed with carols and instrumental music which relate to these specific parts of the story. Finally there is a candle-lighting ceremony, congregational singing on "Silent Night" and a last prayer. Five or six different small churches take part, with elders or pastors from the different congregations doing the Lesson readings. The reception afterwards is overflowing with yummy food -- and it's all vegetarian because it's held at the Adventist Church!
Erin is leading so well now. Her quartet needs strong leadership and she is not afraid to give it. The results are getting more and more impressive.
The only down-side was the driving. I don't generally relish driving 30 miles of lonely winding mountain highway in a snowstorm. Still, the calm and warmth of the service, and the lovely music my kid contributed, made it worth it.