Diocesan News

Community Advent recital

Nebraska City’s 37th annual Advent recital to be at St. Mary Church

By Tammy Partsch

NEBRASKA CITY (SNR) – St. Mary Church in Nebraska City will host the annual community Advent recital Sunday, Dec. 3.

Advent, which comes from the Latin word meaning “coming,” is intended to be a season of preparation for the arrival of Jesus.

In 1981, the Bethel United Church of Christ in Nebraska City began hosting what became an annual Advent recital, featuring local church and music groups. In 2006, there was no one left at Bethel UCC to organize the event and it was in danger of being cancelled. A small group of music lovers banded together to search for a new location and quickly came to a consensus.

“St. Mary’s is a beautiful church and a wonderful place to sing,” said Dean Thomson, director of the Apple Corps, Nebraska City’s male barbershop chorus. “The acoustics of the church make the sound ring; it is very moving, especially when you are singing at a time like Advent.”

Thomson admits there was another reason to approach St. Mary Church about hosting the event.

“For too long, the Advent recital had limited itself to the local Protestant churches and secular groups,” he said. “This was a way to open the doors to the Catholic population in town and make this a truly ecumenical event.”

The first Advent recital at St. Mary in 2006 featured the adult and youth choirs from not only St. Mary Parish, but also from St. Benedict Parish in Nebraska City and St. Bernard Parish near Julian. Choirs from the local Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and other denominations – in addition to the Apple Corps and the women’s barbershop chorus Belles-A-Peelin’ – also performed. In between choir performances, a narrator read parts of the Christmas story from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. At the end of the recital, all the singers gathered at the front of the sanctuary for “Silent Night.”

“This December will be our 12th year of holding the Advent recital at St. Mary’s and it’s been the best decision for the event,” Thomson said. “They were very welcoming to hosting the program and there is no one more accommodating than Father (Michael) McCabe. They have created a special atmosphere for the Advent season and our community of believers has grown stronger each year.”

The recital will begin at 6 p.m. in St. Mary Church, 218 N. 6th St. There is no fee to attend, although free-will offerings will be accepted to support a local charity. Each participating choir takes turns providing refreshments in the church basement after the recital.

“This community recital is the perfect way to start the Advent season,” Thomson said. “The act of coming together and sharing our God-given gifts with each other puts us all in the right frame of mind. And every year, at some point in the evening, the narrator recites Isaiah 9:6: ‘For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’”

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