The Parish of St. Stephen’s, West Vancouver concluded an active fall by presenting the St. Stephen’s Community Choir in concert following the December 19, Advent IV worship. Following diocesan guidelines for gathering and under the leadership of rector, the Reverend Kenneth Vinal, the group had been rehearsing in the larger space of the nave and chancel where members are able to stand six feet apart.
The choir performed from the chancel area, spread out and fully masked, with the communion rails down to increase space. Family members and friends were invited to attend either for the morning service or if they preferred to gather for the concert at 11:15am. Selections varied in mood from “White Christmas”, John Rutter’s “Christmas Lullaby, to the up-beat Hawaiian Christmas carol, “Mele Kalikimaka”.
Several pieces during the program were enhanced by flute obbligato contributed by Nancy Rieken, with the occasional percussion additions by Hilary Clark, (jingle bells, triangle and a ukulele accompaniment for “Mele Kalikimaka”). The concert was arranged, conducted and accompanied by organist/pianist and parish Minister for Music, Dr. Annabelle Paetsch. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the concert over afternoon tea in the lounge afterwards.
St. Stephen’s, West Vancouver held a buoyantly enthusiastic Carol service on Christmas Eve at the new time of 4pm. Given the forecast of snow, and the concern over COVID the earlier time slot certainly suited the congregation reported to be one of the largest in recent memory. The parish was honoured to have the Reverend Juanita Clark serve as deacon. .
The beautiful organ prelude, Corelli’s "Christmas Concerto: Pastorale" set the tone. The warmth of the Minister of Music, Dr. Annabelle Paetsch’s playing was enriched by the flute of Nancy Rieken, and the violin of Kelk Jeffery. Both of these artists added to the music in worship that consisted largely of well-known carols. The rector, the Reverend Kenneth Vinal, brought the distant past of the night of Christ’s birth into the present trauma of the pandemic in his timely homily. The solo “O, Holy Night”, was sung following communion by veteran chorister, Val McPolin. A nice gesture of a box of chocolates placed at the exit had to make do because of the rules of no reception and no socializing.
The snow of Christmas Day certainly brought home the experience of those hardy shepherds who were tending their flocks all those many years ago.
Photos: John Ruddick