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Christmas Eve at St. Patrick’s brings classical tradition

By Sally Neel
Special to The PREVIEW

Christmas Eve is a time for celebration and for most, it is a time for worship as we remember the birth of the Christ child, God among us.

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church will offer two services of worship on Christmas Eve, one at 5 p.m. with an emphasis on ministry to children, and the other at 8 (music begins at 7:30), with an emphasis on classical Christmas music and beautiful traditional liturgy.

The 5 p.m. service will feature music by children and the sermon will be geared towards children. This is the perfect service for families who wish to enjoy Christmas Eve worship and to have the children in bed at a reasonable hour. Both services will offer Holy Communion and the opportunity to sing traditional Christmas hymns.

The later service, beginning with music at 7:30 will include guest musicians Sarah Dorian (cello), Graham Dorian (violin), Heidi Tanner (violin), Jessica Peterson (flute), Kathy Wadenfuhl (flute), Darcy DeGuise (soprano) and Robert Neel (baritone), who will join the St. Patrick’s Choir and Sally Neel, organist and director of music, for an evening of beautiful classical Christmas music in coordination with the traditional candlelight Christmas Eve liturgy and congregational hymns. The Christmas Eve liturgy will begin at 8.

The church will be decorated with 40 poinsettias, candles in the windows, greenery and beautiful altar adornments.

“Our altar guild spends hours decorating our beautiful worship space with the glorious Christmas flowers and greenery that help us celebrate the Incarnation of our Lord,” said Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s. “Our choir has been rehearsing for many weeks to provide the beautiful music we have come to appreciate and enjoy at St. Patrick’s.”

Following the Holy Eucharist, the lights in the church will be dimmed and individual candles will be lit, as the congregation kneels to sing “Silent Night.”

“After all the commercial busyness of the season, this moment in the service brings a reverent focus back to the place it belongs — in our hearts, as we celebrate with love and thanksgiving the Christ child who came to live among us, bringing us the grace and love of God for his people on earth,” said Fr. Neel.

St. Patrick’s welcomes visitors to its services and Holy Communion is open to all who wish to receive it.

“We hope to fill the church for both services as we celebrate the birth of Jesus,” said Fr. Neel.

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. For more information, call the church office at 731-5801.

This story was posted on December 19, 2013.