Christmas Eve services offer sublime music

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Los Angeles Newspaper Group

Even if the day means nothing to you from a religious standpoint, Christmas Eve represents a night to hear some wonderful music … and you even get to join in the music making in many instances. Moreover there are no ticket admission charges, although you’re certainly include a donation when the offering plate passes. Here are Christmas Eve programs from four locales in our readership area:

Westwood United Methodist Church
10497 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles 90024

A pre-service concert at 10:30 p.m. features the church’s Chancel Choir, soloists and an orchestra, led by Minister of Music Gregory Norton, in selections from Handel’s Messiah. The candlelight service at 11 p.m. adds organist Jaebon Hwang to the musical mix that includes congregational singing of Christmas carols.

St. Frances de Sales Church
13360 Valleyheart Drive
Sherman Oaks 91423

Jenine Wagner directs the church choir in Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit pour Noel and selections from Handel’s Messiah in a service that begins at 11:15 p.m. with the singing of Christmas carols. A string quartet and organist Stephen Park accompanies the musical works.

Pasadena Presbyterian Church
585 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena 91101

Yes, I realize it’s my home church so — to quote the sage words of the late, great Molly Ivins — you can take this recommendation with a grain of salt or a pound of salt. Organist Meaghan King begins the Christmas Eve service at 8:40 p.m. with three selections from Olivier Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneur (The Nativity of the Lord), concluding with Dieu Parmi Nous (God With Us). During the Candlelight Communion Service, Dr. Timothy Howard, the church’s organist/music director, will lead the Kirk Choir and Handbell Choir and the congregation joins in singing in seven Christmas carols. As a bonus, soprano soloist Judith Sirilla sings O Holy Night.

St. James’ in the City
3903 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles 90010
(213) 388-3417;

The Choir of Saint James’, led by organist/music director James Buonemani, and an instrumental ensemble lead the 10:30 p.m. Holy Eucharist Christmas Eve service. There’s also a service featuring Gregorian chant on Christmas Day at 10:30 a.m.

(c) Copyright 2014, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email