December at St Michael’s

From Advent to Epiphany, we hope what’s on offer at St Michael’s and St David’s will help you to delight in the Season of Incarnation, of Joy to the World, of Love, actually – O Come, Emmanuel, God with us.

Click “Events” for details of many of the following:-

29th November is Advent Sunday. We start our 10.45am service with The Litany sung in procession; this is Cranmer’s first piece of English Liturgy, published in 1544. The Setting is Kenneth Leighton’s austere Mass in D from 1965, and the Motet is Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, composed by Edgar Bairstow in 1906.
Advent I
On Wednesdays 2nd, 9th & 16th December, St Michael’s will be open from 8.15 – 9.15am to offer Breakfast and hospitality to the parents and children of St David’s School as they arrive, and to our other neighbours, the residents of Mount Dinham. If you can help with this outreach, please contact Chris Heaven or Sabrina Groeschel.

Thursday 3rd December at 6pm, there will be a sung Requiem Mass in memory of Nick Heath.

Sunday 6th December, Advent II, 10.45am Mass. A cappella Setting: Missa “Dixit Maria” by Hassler, and Motet “Canite Tuba” by Guerrero. (…Veni, Domine, et noli tardare. Sound the trumpet …Come, Lord, and do not delay.)
Advent Procession 2014
Our beautiful candlelit Advent Procession at St Michael’s is on Sunday 6th December at 6pm. Prayers, Readings, Hymns and Carols illuminate the 7 “Great O” Antiphons of the Advent Hymn “O come, O come Emmanuel”. The service culminates with Palestrina’s double choir setting of the Magnificat, and is followed by mulled wine and mince pies.

Tuesday 8th December at 6pm. CBS Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. All are welcome at this Plainsong Mass.

Saturday 12th December at 7.30pm, Exeter Chorale, conducted by Dr Nigel Browne, presents a programme of seasonal music, Renaissance and Modern, on the theme of Images of the Incarnation. Admission £8 (£5 Students, children free) including refreshments.
Sunday 13th December, at St David’s Church at 9.30am, Confirmation Service with the Bishop of Crediton, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally.

Sunday 13th December, Advent III, Gaudete Sunday with Rose Red Vestments at 10.45am. Mass in E by Harold Darke and Rejoice in the Lord Alway.
Gaudete Sunday
Sunday 13th December, St Michael’s Choir is at Killerton House, Broadclyst, from 2-3.30pm for an afternoon of Carol Singing in the Estate Chapel (NOT the Music Room). National Trust admission applies. Please come and support us. The House has Narnia themed decorations this year.

Thursday 17th December at 7.30pm – Our traditional Service of Nine Lessons & Carols at St Michael’s.

Sunday 20th December, Advent IV, 10.45am. Lighting the 4th candle and thinking of Mary, with Missa “Ave Maris Stella” by Victoria, and Motet “Alma Mater Redemptoris” by Palestrina. Copies of “Prope Est Dominus” by Michael Haydn, from this Sunday’s Gradual – The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him – were not as nigh as we hoped.

Sunday 20th December, at St David’s Church at 6pm – Another more contemporary Nine Lessons & Carols. Why not try 18 L&C this year?

And on Christmas Eve, Thursday 24th December at 4pm at St David’s Church, a child friendly Christingle Service and Nativity tableau.
Christmas Crib waiting
Thursday 24th December, 11pm Carols from the West Gallery, 11.30pm, Midnight Mass at St Michael’s. The beautifully tuneful Mass in F by Charles Wood (at his most Rutteresque, if that’s not too much of an anachronism) and the ever popular 1837 arrangement of “In Dulci Jubilo” by R L Pearsall, translating the German of the original macaronic text into English but letting the Latin stand.

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock. “Now they are all on their knees,” An elder said as we sat in a flock By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where They dwelt in their strawy pen, Nor did it occur to one of us there To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave In these years! Yet, I feel, If someone said on Christmas Eve, “Come; see the oxen kneel,

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb Our childhood used to know,” I should go with him in the gloom, Hoping it might be so.

This poem, “The Oxen” by Thomas Hardy, published in The Times on Christmas Eve 1915, is exactly 100 years old. On the face of it, a bucolic idyll of worshipping animals (O magnum mysterium) and simple country folk, but just below the surface are Hardy’s own growing doubts and the irony of such a myth ‘in these years’ of war raging in the mud of the trenches. And perhaps still a lingering hope for peace on the earth, upon the midnight clear.
Nativity Window - South Aisle
Friday 25th December, Christmas Day, 10.30am (N.B.) Mass in F by Harold Darke, and Motet: Born Today, by Jan Sweelinck. Come and celebrate Christmas morning with us giving thanks for God’s gift in Jesus.

Saturday 26th December, St Stephen Said Mass at 10am.

Sunday 27th December, St John the Evangelist, the disciple whom Jesus loved. 10.45am Mass. Missa & Motet “O Magnum Mysterium” by Victoria.

Monday 28th December, Holy Innocents Said Mass at 10am.

Sunday 3rd January 2016, Christmas II, 10.45am. Mass for Four Voices by William Byrd. Motet: Lullay my Liking, by Gustav Holst. N.B. No Evensong today, but please come to…
Fr David Hastings
Wednesday 6th January, Epiphany, 7.30pm. Mass in C & F by Stanford. Motet: Three Kings from Persian lands afar, by Cornelius. Please make this Event a priority in your diary. We shall be formally thanking Fr David Hastings for the gifts of his ministry among us at St Michael’s over several years, as he retires from his position as Honorary Assistant Priest.

Incarnation Actually.

No doubt the joyous, uplifting and slightly naughty film “Love Actually” will be gracing our TV screens again with its ensemble story of the lead up to a secular Christmas, in which most characters, but not quite all, find love one way or another.

Our sacred seasons of Advent & Christmas are also about the earthing of religion in relationships, strained or fulfilling, in the unsettling humility of God become human, one of us, at his mother’s breast, the outbuilding behind the Inn echoing to his crying, awake in a manger.

Theology finds a word, Incarnation, to disguise the naked fleshliness, the messy humanity of it all, but I wonder how was it for Mary & Joseph, the Shepherds and their families, Herod and his clever advisers, the Magi with their expectations?

These ideas are explored in our music over these seasons. The big Gospel song at the end of that film’s Nativity Play says – All I want for Christmas … is you. We might rephrase it as – All we need for Christmas … is Jesus.

But what that means to each of us will be different, because we are all loved but each different. How we respond to the Christmas story this year, its message and its music, will probably depend on how events have affected the various physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual facets of our life.

There is a strange symmetry in the life of Jesus, sometimes picked up in poems or paintings – stable cave and rock-hewn tomb, the wood of crib and cross, swaddling-bands and grave-clothes, the spices of the Wise men and the Women, angelic words to the Shepherds and the Women (you can find both in our East window), the cruel pragmatism of the political elite, even the little donkeys of the journey and Palm Sunday.

And there through it all, from start to finish of those special 30-odd years, is Mary, uniquely Mother of God, and also representing us in our humanity.

Wishing you all the love, joy and peace that we so need this Christmas and New Year.

Richard Barnes.