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Festival of Lessons, Songs Fill Church of the Advent Sanctuary

Festival of Lessons

By Helen McCaffrey

CAPE MAY – At this time of the year it would be hard to find a more inspiring venue for worship than the Episcopal Church of the Advent.
On Dec. 13 this beautiful jewel of a house of worship, at the intersection of Franklin and Washington streets, hosted a music-filled liturgy.
The event “A Festival of Lessons and Carols” was the joint endeavor of The Episcopal Church of the Advent/St. John’s Chapel and The First Presbyterian Church of Cape May.
In keeping with the liturgical, pre-Christmas season, the decorations were minimal and an Advent wreath (Three purple candles and a pink one, representing the four Sundays of the pre-Christmas season), was on prominent display.
Windows, some of which are stained glass and others painted glass imported from Canada circa the early 20th century, added to the mystical ambience as light of the setting sun shone through.
The Joyful Ringers began the service with a cornucopia of sacred songs reaching back to the Middle Ages.
The style used for the performance is that of King’s College Chapel at Cambridge University in England.
Readings were taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible and prayers at closing came from the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Occasional Services.
These punctuated the musical renditions performed by choir and bell ringers of songs such as the ancient “Adeste Fidelis” and “Lo How A Rose E’er Blooming” to the American spiritual, “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” which was written in Philadelphia in the 1800s.
Congregants also got to hear the magnificent tones of the one-of-a-kind pipe organ which accompanied some hymns.
Rev. John Mitchell told the Herald that the pipe organ is “one of the finest in New Jersey and has been assembled over the years,” since the start of the 20th century.
Choir directress Carol Obligado said that the choir, which sings for both the Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches has been practicing for this event since September. The entire congregation joined in to sing the closing hymn of “Joy to the World.”
At the end of the hour-long service, the crowd of over 150 left with joyful spirits and smiling faces.
Mitchell reminded all to “Have joy and pay attention to the true meaning of the season.”
To contact Helen McCaffrey, email hmccaffrey @cmcherald.com.

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