Category Archives: Advent

Ten on Tuesday




Visit our hostess Chelsea at Roots and Rings to see more answers!


1. When do you put up and take down your Christmas decorations?
I usually put them up around the third Sunday of Advent, so that’s typically a week or two before Christmas.  I like to wait until Epiphay to take them down, as it’s the last day of the Christmas season for Catholics.
2. What do you do to simplify the holiday season?
We’ve vastly downsized the cooking part of the holiday.  This year, we didn’t host a Christmas Open House as we’ve done in previous years so that’s felt nice.  I try to get as much shopping done in advance as possible.
3. What do you do to remind yourself and your family what the Christmas season is all about?
My sons are teens, so they’ve pretty much figured it all out.  I sing in my parish choir, so I enter into the season pretty early with Advent music and then sing at both Midnight Mass and Christmas Day.  We have an Advent wreath.  I usually read through a book of daily Advent Devotions.
4. How do you spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?
Both days are with family.  This year, we will spend Christmas Eve with my brother and his family who have just moved to Toronto. They have young children, so it will be a relatively early night.  Then I’ll be at church at 11 pm to prep for Midnight Mass with the choir.  Christmas Day will be spent at home.  Stockings first thing in the morning, and then Mass at 11:30.  My brother and his family and my mom will join us Christmas afternoon for gifts and dinner.
5. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
It has to be the music, sacred and secular. On the latter side, I am particularly enjoying Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas this year, as well as Holly Cole’s Christmas disc Baby It’s Cold Outside.
6. Did you do the whole Santa thing growing up? What do you like/not like about continuing the tradition?
We did it, and continued it with our children.  We told our kids (when they asked) that it was up to them whether they believed in Santa, but that Santa would continue to visit.  Now, we all buy Santa gifts for each other at Christmas.
7. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
Snowballs – essentially a shortbread ball coated with coconut.  Yumsters!  But I’m all about shortbread of any kind.  Butter and sugar.  What else does one need?
8. How do you take your egg nog?
With rum and nutmeg.  Everytime I say “nutmeg” I think of Stephen Colbert’s Christmas and John Legend’s hilarious number!
9. What is your favorite Christmas carol and why?
I don’t think I have one.  But off the top, Lo, how a Rose e’er Blooming has to be near the top.
10. When was the last time you had a white Christmas?
Growing up in Ottawa, we had one every year, I think.  Here in Toronto?  Most years.  I never got used to Christmas decorations in Atlanta with no snow.

Sunday Choral Report – Advent IV

After two days of cooking (and eating), I dragged myself up this morning and out to choir for 10 am.  We had a great turn-out and continued prep for our Christmas gigs:  Midnight Mass preceded by half and hour of carols and Christmas Day.

Mass this morning began with O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  During the offering, we did a lovely polyphonic chant based on a 7th century text,  Conditor alme siderum.  For Communion, we sang Jesus Christ the Apple Tree.  Here is a beautiful version sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.

The author of the text is unknown, likely 18th century American, and this version was set to music by Elizabeth Poston.  The text:

1

The tree of life my soul hath seen,

Laden with fruit and always green:

The trees of nature fruitless be

Compared with Christ the apple tree.

2

His beauty doth all things excel:

By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,

The glory which I now can see

In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

3

For happiness I long have sought,

And pleasure dearly I have bought:

I missed of all; but now I see

‘Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

4

I’m weary with my former toil,

Here I will sit and rest a while:

Under the shadow I will be,

Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

5

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,

It keeps my dying faith alive:

Which makes my soul in haste to be

With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

Sunday Journal

Today, we were to host my family for a group birthday party:  my mom, my husband, and my sister-in-law all celebrate birthdays in the last 10 days of November, and we invited extended family to celebrate with us today.  Z wasn’t feeling well last night, but I figured I could manage on my own.  I awoke this morning with a sore throat and achy glands, and that germy feeling in my mouth and sinuses. Z commented that he had the worst sore throat he’d ever experienced.  We decided that hosting a party with three octogenarians and an infant plus two toddlers was probably not a good idea, so my brother is having all the non-sick ones over instead.  It also meant that I missed mass and choir on this first Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of the new liturgical year.

Earlier this week, I was at my local Catholic book store (Pauline Books and Media) and I picked up a book of readings for Advent earlier this week featuring scripture, readings from Thomas Merton, and prayers for each day of Advent and Christmas.  This will be my companion through the season.  There are similar books in the series featuring readings from Padre Pio, G.K. Chesteron, Thomas Aquinas, C.S. Lewis and others.

The preface to the book is a wonderful quote:

Advent is a time of waiting, of expectation, of silence.  Waiting for our Lord to be born.  A pregnant woman is so happy, so content.  She lives in such a garment of silence, and it is as though she were listening to hear the stir of life within her.  One always hears that stirring compared to the rustling of a bird in the hand.  But the intentness with which one awaits such stirring is like nothing so much as a blanket of silence. – Dorothy Day

Sunday Journal

Today, we were to host my family for a group birthday party:  my mom, my husband, and my sister-in-law all celebrate birthdays in the last 10 days of November, and we invited extended family to celebrate with us today.  Z wasn’t feeling well last night, but I figured I could manage on my own.  I awoke this morning with a sore throat and achy glands, and that germy feeling in my mouth and sinuses. Z commented that he had the worst sore throat he’d ever experienced.  We decided that hosting a party with three octogenarians and an infant plus two toddlers was probably not a good idea, so my brother is having all the non-sick ones over instead.  It also meant that I missed mass and choir on this first Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of the new liturgical year.

Earlier this week, I was at my local Catholic book store (Pauline Books and Media) and I picked up a book of readings for Advent earlier this week featuring scripture, readings from Thomas Merton, and prayers for each day of Advent and Christmas.  This will be my companion through the season.  There are similar books in the series featuring readings from Padre Pio, G.K. Chesteron, Thomas Aquinas, C.S. Lewis and others.

The preface to the book is a wonderful quote:

Advent is a time of waiting, of expectation, of silence.  Waiting for our Lord to be born.  A pregnant woman is so happy, so content.  She lives in such a garment of silence, and it is as though she were listening to hear the stir of life within her.  One always hears that stirring compared to the rustling of a bird in the hand.  But the intentness with which one awaits such stirring is like nothing so much as a blanket of silence. – Dorothy Day

Sunday Choral Report

I’m back in the choral saddle, so to speak, after a week out of town and a week of sickness.  Yesterday was the dress rehearsal for the Aradia Ensemble concert in which I am participating this afternoon.  I am in the chorus for Vivaldi’s Gloria, that is being performed with a small group of (period) instruments and about 20 voices.

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent.  Our celebrant was, I think, in rose.  It was somewhere between liturgical purple and red.  But not the pepto bismol pink that is typical in churches that play by the book.  So I’m really not sure if it was rose after all.
Processional:  No actual procession.  Celebrant was in his seat with lights down.  We sang The Canticle of Mary (CBW3, 14I) as the opening hymn, while lights came up.
Offertory:  Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to the Virgin.  This is a gorgeous piece that should be done with two choirs.  We had two altos and two tenors today, so it was a little light, but it sounded beautiful, better than any of our run-throughs in rehearsal.
Communion:  Rorate Coeli (Gregorian Chant).  This was written in chant notation, the first time I have sung from this type of manuscript.  Here is a video clip of this chant.


Recessional:  Tell Out My Soul (CBW3, 575).  I had never noticed that this hymn is based on the Magnificat.

Sunday Choral Report

I’m back in the choral saddle, so to speak, after a week out of town and a week of sickness.  Yesterday was the dress rehearsal for the Aradia Ensemble concert in which I am participating this afternoon.  I am in the chorus for Vivaldi’s Gloria, that is being performed with a small group of (period) instruments and about 20 voices.

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent.  Our celebrant was, I think, in rose.  It was somewhere between liturgical purple and red.  But not the pepto bismol pink that is typical in churches that play by the book.  So I’m really not sure if it was rose after all.
Processional:  No actual procession.  Celebrant was in his seat with lights down.  We sang The Canticle of Mary (CBW3, 14I) as the opening hymn, while lights came up.
Offertory:  Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to the Virgin.  This is a gorgeous piece that should be done with two choirs.  We had two altos and two tenors today, so it was a little light, but it sounded beautiful, better than any of our run-throughs in rehearsal.
Communion:  Rorate Coeli (Gregorian Chant).  This was written in chant notation, the first time I have sung from this type of manuscript.  Here is a video clip of this chant.

Recessional:  Tell Out My Soul (CBW3, 575).  I had never noticed that this hymn is based on the Magnificat.