Friday, December 18, 2009

Carol Service at St. Hilda's

I didn't post yesterday because I knew I would want to post about my experience last night. I have been trying to visit St. Hilda's since I moved here and I've only ever seen the outside. Well last night a choir I sing in, The George Colley Singers, provided the music for the Hartlepool Freemasons Carol Service.

I've never seen anything quite the same as a carol service in the States, although certainly similar services in the season of Advent. The way it works is that a series of lessons are read, last night there were 9 lessons read starting at Genesis, through prophecies of the Messiah in the Old Testament and then finally to many of the familiar passages of the Christmas Story. Between each reading, a Christmas carol is sung. At this carol service my choir did a short Musical Interlude halfway through the service where we sang O Holy Night, Be Still My Soul and an Italian carol called Bambino. The rest of the service we just led the congregation in the carols and threw in harmonies where we knew them to fill out the sound.

It was a magnificent service. Sadly I couldn't get any photos inside because it was too dark in there and I don't believe in using flash photography inside 800 year old sacred buildings. Its disrespectful and the light from flashes can damage the frescos, fabrics and other priceless art decorating these buildings which are irreplaceable.

I was really surprised when I entered St. Hilda's that it has been so beautifully kept and fitted with a lot of modern conveniences like beautiful modern lighting and heating. Although there is only so much you can do, the church was still absolutely freezing and while the congregation stayed in their coats and wooly hats, I was wearing this...
It should come as no surprise that I am easily the youngest lady in the choir.

A bit of history about St. Hilda's Hartlepool. Although the exact date is unknown, St. Hilda's church was built in the 13th Century by the Brus family. Yes, the same family Robert the Bruce came from and local legend has it that Robert the Bruce was actually born in the Brus family home in Hart Village and not in Scotland as Scottish history books tell us. It would certainly make sense as Robert the Bruce's father was the Lord of Hartness and owned most of Hartlepool. Both the original St. Hilda's church and the Hartlepool Town Wall were built by the Bruce family.

St. Hilda's Church
Hartlepool Town Wall

The site of St. Hilda's church is actually home to an even older sacred place dating back to the 7th Century. Before St. Hilda's church was built by the Bruces, St. Hilda's Abbey existed on the Hartlepool Headland and was founded by the Saint in 640 A.D. So the land where St. Hilda's currently stands has been a place of worship for over 1300 years.

Visiting this church is special, but getting the opportunity to sing in this space with a really talented group of musicians was a special Christmas treat for me and something I will never forget and hope to do again next year and in years to come.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Midwest To-Do Lists

I don't know if I posted it here, but I am coming home for Christmas. I will be in Lake Orion from December 21th-27th and in Chicago from December 28th-January 2nd. I have a lot of feelings swirling around about this trip, it has really been a long time since I have been back and I don't know what to expect. My first priority was to find a place for Max while I was gone, I finally found a great kennel to board Max. Its a farm, and come on what dog doesn't love a farm? He will get lots of love and most importantly exercise and that was my main concern. It will be so hard to leave, but at least when I leave him I can convince myself he is going on vacation too.

So, now with all of that out of my mind, I can start thinking about what I am going to do when I get home to Lake Orion and when I get back to Chicago.

My Metro Detroit List

Dinner and margaritas at Sagebrush Cantina in downtown LO
A couple drinks at Hamlin Pub for old time's sake
A long visit with Barbie, we have so much to catch up on and there are some things that can only be said in person
A visit to Canterbury Village, I never realized how much I missed this until I went through a Christmas season without it
Christmas Eve service at King of Kings Lutheran, there is no substitute and its not Christmas without it
Starbucks, Starbucks and more Starbucks

My Chicago List

A visit to the Globe Pub, the place where Jason and I met
Good old Chicago brunch at Pick Me Up Cafe
Pints at the Irish Oak in Wrigleyville
Lunch with babies, sounds silly (and messy) but in the past year my group of friends in Chicago have had TEN beautiful babies (with another due any day) and I have yet to meet a single one of them
Get a haircut
Do some bargain shopping at Filene's Basement/DSW
I have A LOT of people to visit and drink wine with, I won't list them all here but you know who you are
Visit my old office and former coworkers
Eat LOTS of sushi
Starbucks, Starbucks and more Starbucks