The annual service of Christmas praise and readings in Blairgowrie Parish Church on Thursday evening last week was a highlight of the joyous season with readings, carols and musical presentation.
The service opened with the choir singing the introit, ‘Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming’, a German traditional carol.
A welcome to members of several congregations in the town by the Rev. Harry Mowbray, was followed by the hymn, ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’, and prayer after which Mr Mowbray joined the tenor section of the augmented choir, conducted by organist Lex Dunlop.
A selection of carols and hymns was interspersed with readings by members of various congregations in the town.
Readings were by Alisdair Drummond (Isaiah ch 9) and Maureen Mowbray (Micah ch 5), Blairgowrie Parish Church; Very Rev. Kenny Rathband (Isaiah ch 11), and Gill Buxbaum (St Luke ch 1), St Catharine’s Scottish Episcopal Church; Rev. Linda Stewart (St Matthew ch 1) and Evelyn Grieve (St Luke ch 2), Rattray Parish Church; and Pat McCarthy (St Luke ch 2), and John Thomson (St Matthew ch 2), St Stephen’s RC Church.
The ninth and final reading by Mr Mowbray was from St John ch 1.
Carols by the choir were ‘O Come, Our World’s Redeemer’ and ‘A Virgin Most Holy. In a violin interlude Esther Jack played ‘Winter’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and a modern swinging version of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’. Esther was accompanied by Mr Dunlop on organ, and the congregation burst into spontaneous applause as organist and violinist exchanged high fives.
Hymns included ‘It Came Upon the Midnight Clear’; ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’; ‘See In Yonder Manger Low’; ‘As With Gladness Men of Old’ and ‘Love Came Down at Christmas’. The service closed with prayer, the hymn, Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, and the Benediction. A retiring offering was taken for Christian Aid.
The service was followed by a reception in the church hall with mince pies provided by Ken and Ethel Dow and helpers.
Morning worship on the fourth Sunday in Advent on Christmas Eve was conducted by Mr Mowbray.
The service commenced with the choir singing the introit, ‘Let All Together Praise Our Lord’, followed by the minister’s welcome and intimations.
The hymn, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, was followed by prayers of approach and confession and the lighting by Sunday School member Catherine Murrie of the Advent Candle to remind us of Mary and the events leading up to her being the mother of Jesus.
The first four verses of Hymn 282, ‘Christmas Is Coming!’ were followed by Children’s Time. Mr Mowbray produced a tree which the children noted was not a Christmas tree as it was not decorated. So while the children decorated the tree, the congregation sang the first three verses of the hymn, ‘See Him Lying On a Bed of Straw’. Just as the tree decorations give meaning to the tree, the coming of the baby Jesus gives meaning and purpose to our lives.
Scripture readings by David Howat were from 2 Samuel ch 7 vv 1-11, 16, The Lord’s covenant with David, and St Luke ch 1 vv 26-38, Mary is promised a son. Between the readings the choir sang the anthem, ‘The Angel Gabriel’, a Basque carol.
The hymn, ‘Still the Night, Holy the Night!’ was followed by Mr Mowbray’s sermon about David and the Ark of the Covenant, related to the announcement to Mary of the coming birth of Jesus. King David was promised by God that his descendant’s kingdom would last for ever. The announcement to Mary that her coming son, Jesus, would be an eternal ruler in God’s kingdom followed that promise to David. The coming of Christ as a baby changed the world forever and we are called to continue that change so that the joy, peace and love of the Christmas