While the weather may become cooler and drier, we will begin our new liturgical year in the warmth of our Advent journey together. In South Florida we have the tremendous opportunity to use our glorious outdoor spaces to offer in-person worship. Starting on the First Sunday of Advent, November 29, we will celebrate an 8:00 a.m. Eucharist in the Garden Chapel. And we are working hard to develop a 10:00 a.m. in-person service in the Garth in the next few weeks. These services will be possible without service leaflets; but, for those who would like it, an online leaflet will be available via a link in our weekly email newsletter and also via a QR code that will be posted at entrances.

The 11:00 a.m. Eucharist will continue to be streamed, but with some new ideas for the new liturgical year. Firstly, the leaflet will take more advantage of its online status. We will include the music to make hymns and service music easier to follow. We will use more color and more space since there are no printing costs. The Advent Wreath will start each service as a seasonal reminder to watch and wait with hope. Between the first two Lessons, as a special seasonal offering, one of the members of the Bethesda Choir will sing an aria from the Advent section of Handel’s beloved Messiah. Hymns will be from the familiar Advent canon; organ voluntaries will be based on those hymns or related themes; and the choir will sing a beautiful anthem at the Offertory.

The service music will be partly or entirely new to everyone. So, the choir has recorded a video to help us all feel a little more familiar when we reach those crucial points in the service. Click here to watch the 3 minutes of music. Where we usually sing a Song of Praise, such as the Gloria in excelsis, this season we will sing a setting of the Trisagion from The Hymnal 1982: “Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.” The Sanctus comes from the hymnal supplement Wonder, Love, and Praise, and features a bilingual version of the familiar text: “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might…” Finally, the Fraction Anthem introduces a brand-new text and melody (published this fall!): “Come, holy Child of light.”

Let us prepare a highway for our God.

Dr. Stuart Forster
Associate for Music and Liturgy, Organist, and Choirmaster