It’s almost Christmas – words to strike terror into heart of any church musician. A joyful season, to be sure, but for those of us who make the music for all those services that take place this coming week – not a relaxing one. I wouldn’t choose any other profession, but each December finds me testing new ways to handle the stress. This year my main keep-sane strategy is walking. I will write more about that in a later posting. For those of you living in the Tokyo area and interested in finding Christmas services with good music, here is the schedule of events at Rikkyo University between the 22nd and 25th of December.
Service of Nine Lessons and Carols (Dec. 22)
This service begins with a half hour organ recital at 5:00 p.m., followed by the traditional service of nine Christmas-related readings and nine choral anthems. Held in the Ikebukuro university chapel, it is always full, so plan to arrive early if you attend. Music by Byrd, Guerro, Willcocks, Rutter, Ord and others will be sung by the choir. Those attending particpate in the singing of well-known Christmas carols.
Christmas Eve (Dec. 24)
1. Christmas Evensong at Tucker Hall (Ikebukuro Campus). 4:00 p.m.
This service involves the university administration, all the choirs, from the gradeschool through the university, organ and brass. It is often overflowing (Tucker Hall seats over 1,000), so arrive early if you plan to attend.
2. Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at the Ikebukuro Campus Chapel: 11:45 p.m.
This service is held at the university chapel and will be sung by the university chapel choir. Choral anthems include the following: Sussex Carol (Willcocks), Torches (Joubert), Adam lay y’bounden (Ord) and Flemish Carol (Rutter). I am on duty as organist, and my assistant conductor will be directing the choir. Music for the mass is plainsong. This is a very nice service for those out and about at midnight, and is also usually well attended.
Christmas Day (Dec. 25)
The Christmas high mass in held in the university Ikebukuro campus chapel is the third major service of the season, and involves an army of acolytes moving in precision and music by the university chapel choir, handbell choir, and organ. Anthems include the above, as well as others. I will be in the balcony directing the choir, while the university organist, Ms. Sakiyama, plays the service. Congregational music includes the plainsong mass, as well as familiar hymns.