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St. Paul’s pre­pares for their annual Advent Hymn Fes­tival, which will take place Sunday, Nov. 29 at 6 p.m.

St. Paul’s Evan­gelical Lutheran Church will hold its second annual Advent Hymn Fes­tival on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 6 p.m.

“Hymn fes­tivals are oppor­tu­nities to tap into the deep store­house of Christian hymnody,” intern Cantor Nathan Grime ‘20  said. “There are a lot of Lutherans who have written hymns in the last 500 years that our church has really loved.” 

The fes­tival will feature adult and youth choirs, hand­bells, brass, strings, and other sacred music. Grime is in charge of the music for the event. 

“We’ve been planning this for about a month,” he said. “In October we started talking about it. Last year was the first time. We’re doing it this year to keep that tra­dition, hoping to make it a yearly thing.” 

The fes­tival last year went well, according to Grime. 

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “St. Paul’s had never done a hymn fes­tival service before. I’ve only been the organist there for three years, so it was new for me to do some­thing like that, new for them. We didn’t do any­thing super com­pli­cated or special music-wise.” 

This year, Grime said he hopes to be a little bit more ambi­tious with the music, but still con­scious of the purpose of the event. 

“This year what we’ve got planned is some­thing a little more dif­ficult. Music is a little more involved,” he said. “It’s a service for the con­gre­gation, not a concert or per­for­mance. You want it to be for the benefit of folks who are going to attend. You can’t think only of your choir, but also how the music will be musi­cally and spir­i­tually ben­e­ficial and enhancing for people walking into the service.” 

The service will include preaching, reading pas­sages of Scripture, and then singing hymns that have to do with that passage.

“It pro­vides a really nice oppor­tunity to mark the season of Advent with hymns, holy scripture, and prayer. It helps us under­stand the theme of Advent as a dis­tinct season from Christmas,” asso­ciate pastor Sean Willman said. “We sing lots of Christmas hymns throughout the season of Christmas, but often­times Advent gets a little bit of a short shrift.” 

Willman went on to say that the fes­tival is also meant to be a reflective time during the season. 

“During the two pen­i­tential seasons of the year, Advent and Lent, the church sets aside more time to reflect on the gifts of Christ, espe­cially how Christ comes to us in Advent,” Willman said. “This is another way to dis­tinctly high­light what’s going on and why we’re doing it.” 

St. Paul’s member Robin Bertram went to the fes­tival last year and said she enjoyed the atmos­phere that was created. 

“It was a nice, quiet, calm evening, in a way that I don’t usually get to see our church,” she said. “The time of day, the event, the pro­duction of it. The lighting of the church was all muted and it set the mood for the whole evening. It was a nice kickoff to the season.” 

This will be the first musical event for the church since COVID-19, and Grime said he is looking forward to being together again. 

“I’m looking forward to doing some­thing as a church musi­cally and in the context of a church service for the first time in a long time,” he said. “Usually as a church, we would get choirs and instru­men­talists for some­thing like Easter. It’s really been almost a year since people have been able to sing in a choir. I’m looking forward to being able to do that again.” 

The fes­tival is open to all. Ulti­mately, the event is meant “to sing some Advent hymns and be reminded of the presence of our Jesus, Christ Lord,” Willman said. 

Bertram said the singing of hymns will be her favorite part. 

“I love hearing the music in all the dif­ferent ways,” Bertram said. “Whether it’s the children singing mildly off-key or having everybody sing the same songs that are known by all gen­er­a­tions with the mem­ories each of us has attached to those songs.”