Midnight Mass at my parish was a bit of a disappointment. Except for four carols instead of four hymns, it was just spoken mass like any Sunday. No incense, no carols, no chant (not even sung congregational pieces of the liturgy), in fact, come to think of it, I didn't even see a Christmas tree! The young woman who played the piano and led the singing was very good (a great talent, even), but she wasn't given much scope for anything other than the carols. It was all over in 45 minutes.
Lessons and Carols at St Paul's, however, was a great treat. The choir and organist there are top notch, and their selection was brilliant. Here is the program:
Processional (Choir): Wexford Carol / "Good People all, this Christmas time" (arr. by John Rutter)
(Choir and Congregation) Once in Royal David's City (arr. P. Ledger)
(Congregation) Joy to the World
(Choir) Remember Christians all (Thomas Ravencroft)
(Choir) Est ist ein Ros' entsprungen (auf Deutsch - see my separate entry above about this text)
(Congregation) Of the Father's Love Begotten (sung alternately between Men and Women)
(Choir and Congregation) O Little Town of Bethlehem (arr. Vaughan Williams, Philip Ledger, Thomas Armstrong)
(Choir) Ave Maria (Franz Biebel) - "Lutheranised" - see my other blog on this.
(Congregation) Away in a manger (arr. David Willcocks)
(Choir) Starry Night (words by Anne Willcocks, music by David Willcocks) - this was a real treat, containing a surprisingly Catholic Mariology for a Lutheran service (see here for full words and music)
(Congregation) Silent Night
(Congregation) The First Nowell
(Choir) Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child (an unusual but effective setting by Kenneth Leighton)
(Choir) From heaven above to earth I come (one verse based upon an organ prelude by J.S. Bach)
And of course:
Recessional (Congregation) Hark the Herald Angels sing
My daughters enjoyed this service immensely (as did the rest of us), singing happily and staying awake for the whole service - which ended around 10pm.
For anyone brought up in the Protestant traditions, singing and music is soooo essential to the Christmas celebration. If only we Catholics could learn from this...