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A Season of Songs

An Advent Presentation by the Methodist Festival Choir

Jubilate Deo, omnis terra; servite Domino in Laetitia. Introite in conspectus ejus in exultatione.

(Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.)

With these joyful words from Psalm 100, the 70-strong Methodist Festival Choir (MFC) ushered the congregations at Christ Methodist Church on 1 Dec 2019 and Barker Road Methodist Church on 8 Dec 2019 into a celebration of Advent through songs, prayers and scripture readings.

Christmas is celebrated across the world, but the season of Advent (the four weeks before Christmas Day) is less ubiquitous. What is even lesser known during this season are the four songs (or canticles1) found in the Christmas narrative as recorded in the gospel of Luke. MFC’s Advent presentation brought these four canticles to the forefront of the congregations’ attention, allowing them to relive and reflect on the anticipation, joy and mystery that Mary, Zechariah, Simeon and the angels felt about the birth of Jesus Christ.

1.      Magnificat: Mary proclaims her joy for being the handmaiden chosen by God to bear Jesus. With her praise, she declares God’s power over the rich and His compassion over the poor.

2.      Benedictus: Zechariah, joyful about the birth of his son John the Baptist, praises God and prophesises about the coming of Jesus, the horn of salvation.

3.      Gloria: The angels announce the birth of Jesus Christ to the shepherds.

4.      Nunc Dimittis: Simeon the high priest, finally sees God’s promise—Jesus Christ—and so he asks God to let him go in peace.

The congregations also had a joyous time of singing familiar carols such as “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Angels We Have Heard on High”, “The First Noel” and “Joy to the World” together with the MFC. The atmosphere was celebratory—not only because of the rousing singing and rich musical accompaniment, but also the goodness of the news that was being proclaimed through the liturgy. It was truly a memorable two evenings!

1Canticles are songs from Scripture apart from the Psalms.

Established in 2013, the MFC provides a platform for Christian choristers and choral conductors to learn and support one another in the choral ministry, and to reach out to the community through public presentations. Watch out for MFC’s next presentation in the first half of 2020! More information will soon be available at www.msmusic.edu.sg/event.

For more information on joining the choir, email festivalchoir.msm@gmail.com.

Amelia Leo is a programme executive at the Worship and Church Music Department of the Methodist School of Music. She is a member of Fairfield Methodist Church and currently directs its choir.

Photos courtesy of the Methodist School of Music