Christmas is a time for telling stories, and there is no better story than the Christmas story itself. Throughout history, this story has been told and retold in countless variations, capturing hearts and minds as each version reveals fresh insights into the story.
Throughout the ages, composers have tried to capture the magic of the Christmas story. There is more music for Christmas than for any other time of year and the Christmas season is filled with concerts and singing.
This Christmas, Menno Singers is telling the Christmas story on two consecutive Sundays in two very different ways:
• On Dec. 11 at 3 p.m., Brother Heinrichs Christmas will be performed at St Peter’s Lutheran Church, Kitchener, Ont., as part of a concert entitled “Brother Heinrich’s Christmas and Other Tales,” that includes A Little Advent Music by Distler, Ave Rex by Mathias and audience carols.
Brother Heinrich’s Christmas is a delightful and humorous Christmas fable set to music by John Rutter in 1982, with narrator, choir and small orchestra. It tells the story of a humble and reclusive 14th century Dominican monk, Heinrich Suso, and his musically gifted donkey, Sigismund, who sings in the abbey choir. The archbishop is visiting for Christmas Day and Heinrich wants to make a good impression by composing an appropriate carol. He can’t seem to get the right song, as the orchestra plays his failed efforts at several common carol melodies. Finally, on Christmas Eve, the monk and donkey hear a choir of angels sing “In Dulci Jubilo.” Heinrich returns to transcribe the gift of this song, but can’t remember the final phrases. After several failed endings, the musical donkey comes through by resolutely singing the last two notes, thus saving the day and leaving the archbishop pleased.
• On Dec. 18 at 3 p.m., “Sing-along Messiah” will be performed at St. Jacobs Mennonite Church.
Simply bring a score—there will be some loaners on hand—and a sense of humour and adventure, and sing along with some of the favourite choruses and arias with absolutely no rehearsal whatsoever. Singers will be joined by a small orchestra and soloists. The event is a fundraiser for Menno Singers.