RUMSON, NJ – Holy Cross Church was filled with beautiful music to set the tone for Advent and to prepare the people for the Christmas season. Director of Music Don Carolina conducted seventeen members of the Holy Cross Adult Choir accompanied by an eleven-member chamber choir and a six-piece chamber orchestra in Part One of Messiah, the 275-year-old piece by George Frideric Handel. Pastor Fr. Michael Manning welcomed the crowd, especially new visitors, to the parish.
The beautifully renovated church was enhanced with its enormous Advent wreath of live greens suspended directly above the chamber orchestra and conductor, its purple and pink ribbons reaching out over the choir and audience like an invitation. The men in the choir wore black tuxedoes, and the female members wore traditional black, with beautiful red scarves over their shoulders for a splash of Christmas color.
The music began with the overture by the chamber orchestra, including Maya Shiraishi on Violin I, Diane Bruce on Violin II, Richard Brice on Viola, Elina Lang on Cello, Pawel Knapik on Bass, and Dongsok Shin on Harpsichord. The first solo was offered by Tenor Alex de Aguiar Reuter, followed by Bass David Murray, Alto Emily Skilling, and Sopranos Abbey Clyne, Grace Gilday and Alto Sara Cooper.
The famous piece, which begins with the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Comfort ye my people,” announces the future Christ, and the glory that will be His, and the goodness He will bring to the people. It predicts the birth of Jesus to a virgin, and that, “though darkness shall cover the earth…His glory shall be seen upon thee.” “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.” It then announces the Nativity, “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given,” and rejoices with, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will towards men.” The piece further glorifies the works of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, feeding his flock and gathering lambs in His arm.
The grand finale is the famous Hallelujah chorus, which did not disappoint. The entire congregation stood, and many joined in singing. Countless smiles, and a few tears, could be seen as the emotionally-charged music took hold of the worship space. The concert was the second annual for the Roman Catholic Church. It was a free concert, with a good will offering requested to defray costs of the concert and contribute to the charitable works of the parish. For more information about Holy Cross Church, please visit www.holycrossrumson.org.