Christmas 2019 Events – Report
December 7-8, 2019 – Each year the New York Staff Band enjoys participating in a variety of Christmas events the first weekend in December. This year was no different! With just a bit of snow on the ground in the New York area we started our weekend Saturday evening at the beautiful Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ridgewood, NJ. Excitement for the evening was instantaneous with the arrival of the children from the Spring Valley Singing Company who were joining the Staff Band in concert. Colonel Kenneth O. Johnson, Jr., Chief Secretary in the USA East joined with us and created an evening full of program comments and Christmas spirit serving as the compere for the concert. His devotional thought reminded us to “keep your eye on the One” who brings the light of His salvation and love to our lives.
The evening began with a new piece by Joel Collier and also the winning piece in the Staff Band Christmas Composer Contest, “Personent Hodie” followed by the brilliant piece, “Sounding Joy” by Dean Jones. The theme running through the evening had to do with “light”. Pieces like “Let There Be Light” by Steven Ponsford, “Lux Aeterna” by Philip Harper and “Illuminate” by Andrew Wainwright captured the theme brilliantly!
The Spring Valley Singing Company under the leadership of Lily Finikin brought the excitement of Christmas to the evening as only children can! “All There Is Of Me” by Rachael Power, “Ding Dong Merrily on High” by Chelsea Pascoe and “It Isn’t Very Comfy On a Camel” by Barbara Allen all added a special joy to the evening.
“Yuletide Treasure”, a new piece by Marcus Venables and “Carol of the Bells” by Jeff Christmas prepared the audience for the singing of a few Christmas carols. The evening finished with Philip Rayment’s piece, “Advent Hymn” and “A Joyful Sound” by Marcus Venables.
As Colonel Johnson completed one of his final events in this territory before moving on to National Headquarters and knowing his musical expertise (especially as a percussionist), he was asked to conduct the band in the all-time favorite, “Christmas Joy”. Good job, Colonel!
A highlight from this evening, for this writer, was the accapella singing of the last stanza of “Silent Night”. The beauty and acoustics of this lovely sanctuary amplified our voices to bring glory to God for His gift to us at Christmas.
Bright and early on Sunday morning the band travelled to the Manhattan Adult Rehabilitation Center in New York City for what has become an annual event conducting the morning worship with the residents. Many of the musical pieces played the night before in concert were now presented as a gift of worship to our Lord. Testimonies from the men and women of the ARC, as well as the Band, always become a very meaningful part of the worship service. Thus, was the
case this Sunday morning. Major Stewart Dalrymple (Soprano Cornet) shared from God’s word and His Spirit moved in each of our heart’s that morning.
Our weekend concluded with participation in the Greater New York Christmas Show at the Centennial Memorial Temple in NYC. The stage area was vibrant with excitement as timbrels, dancers, singers, actors all were coming together for a brilliant Christmas program.
The timbrels performed to the NYSB playing the Christmas march, “Celebrate the Season” by Andrew Blyth to begin the program. Monologues from prophets in the Old Testament, Abraham and Isaiah, lead us into the portrayal of the Christmas story. The Greater New York Youth Chorus (Lily Finikin) sang a lovely arrangement of “See Amid the Winter’s Snow” (Forrest) accompanied by the NYSB as well as “O Come All Ye Faithful (Greer). “Mary’s Prayer” and “Joseph’s Monologue” lead us further into the Christmas story and Jaden Knaggs singing, “Tonight” (Johnson) added the Shepherds visit to the baby Jesus.
Commissioner Bamford, our Territorial Commander, continued with the “light” theme as part of his devotions that evening reminding us just how bright “our” light can be for Jesus especially in a darkened world. “The Light Has Come”…. We left confident that He is the light of the world!
The New York Staff Band continues to celebrate Christmas during that first weekend in December and this year was no exception. A great weekend!
By Karen Shaffstall, NYSB Second Cornet
Saturday evening program LIVESTREAM
Sunday evening program LIVESTREAM