On the 5th day of Christmas …
LAKE PLACID – The Northern Adirondack Vocal Ensemble raised its voices in prayer Sunday evening, filling a church splendidly decorated for Christmas with elaborate singing to celebrate the story of Jesus’ birth.
The concert was originally scheduled to take place the Sunday before Christmas, but it was postponed on short notice due to an ice storm that plagued the North Country that weekend. A companion concert Saturday in Plattsburgh was also postponed from last weekend to this one.
The result was a more old-fashioned take on the holiday season, harkening back to a time when the “12 Days of Christmas” began on Christmas Day and didn’t end until Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany celebrating the arrival of the three magi at Jesus’ birthplace.
Sunday’s concert took place in the recently renovated St. Agnes Catholic Church. Birch trees attached to its pillars and decked with lights were a striking sight along the sides of the center aisle.
The concert was called “A Festival of Lessons and Carols.” The carols were sung in intricate arrangements by the 18 members of NAVE, directed by founder Andrew Benware of Saranac Lake. The songs ranged from English carols in the tradition of King’s College, Cambridge, to an African-American spiritual.
The lessons were nine readings, mostly from the Bible but also including Denise Levertov’s poem “Annunciation” and a brief message delivered by the Rev. John Yonkovig, pastor of St. Agnes.
The audience that filled the church was asked to stand and join in singing many of the carols, accompanied by the church’s pipe organ.