“Resilience to Brilliance” is the intriguing theme for Word Up Wednesday worship at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough, during Advent. On three Wednesday evenings in Advent – December 4, 11, and 18 – worshipers will gather at 7 pm to light candles in the dark and learn how hope makes for resilient communities.
“The earliest Christians were resilient in the face of tough times,” notes Pastor Joseph Graumann, “and our faith equips us to be resilient, too.” There may be parallels between Jesus time and today, with attitudes of the rich and powerful and how they viewed “the regular folks who struggle to get by.” As Christians prepare for the coming of Jesus, “the light that brilliantly shines in the darkness, we also prepare for the kingdom of God,” the pastor adds. “This is a kingdom where all are loved and everyone has what they need.”
Everyone is welcome to take a step away from the sometimes frantic Christmas preparation to participate in the Word Up Wednesday services, which will offer discussion and Holy Communion, as the series moves from a season of darkness into light. One of Advent’s most prominent symbols is the candles lit at the beginning of each week.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
After sessions on resilience, St. Stephen Lutheran Church invites worshipers to celebrate the brilliance of the Christmas season at 4 pm or 7 pm Christmas Eve and 10 am Christmas Day.
Children are welcome at all services, but the 4 pm service will be particularly family-friendly. Music offered by voice and handbell choirs will characterize the 7 pm service.
For more information about the church, visit www.saintstephenlutheran.com or the church’s Facebook page. Saint Stephen is a member of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (www.elca.org) . The church is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, inviting people of every gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, marital status, or class. Parishioners come from Marlborough, Hudson, Berlin, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Sudbury, Stow, and Bolton.
Music spanning the centuries, and ranging from familiar hymns to modern secular works will be part of an organ concert at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough on Sunday, November 24 at 5:00 pm. The concert is free and the public is invited.
The concert will feature the Woodberry & Harris pipe organ, recently acquired as a gift from Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Shrewsbury. One of about 30 organs the Boston-based Woodberry & Harris made, it was constructed in about 1892 and served its first congregation in Abington for 60 years. It was then considered worn out and stored for several decades. Tthe organ was rebuilt for the Shrewsbury church in 1982 and was disassembled, fine-tuned and reassembled at St. Stephen this summer.
Stan Hanson, the music director at St. Stephen, will play a program designed to showcase the various sounds and diversity of the small pipe organ, and will open with Trumpet Voluntary, from John Stanley (1712-86). Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott, a choral prelude from Johann Nicolaus Hanff (1633-1711) follows. It is based on the familiar Martin Luther hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God. Dietrich Buxtehude’s Nun Bitten Wir, also a choral prelude, comes third, and then the audience gets the opportunity to sing.
Hyfrydol is a popular hymn tune by Paul Manz (1919-2009). A variety of lyrics have been set to this tune, thus people know it by many names. At this event, just a week before the start of Advent, concert-goers will sing it as Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.
The program also includes Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, J.S. Bach (1685-1750) from Cantata 147, arranged by Hal H. Hopson; Prelude and Fugue in E-minor (BWV 533) “The Cathedral” J. S. Bach, and three pieces by American composers: Impromptu, David Lasky (born 1957), Variations to the Sicilian Hymn, Benjamin Carr (1769-1831), and Trio in a Style of Bach, “Alles Was Du Bist,” Billy Nalle (1921-2005). Hanson notes that both the Lasky and Nalle selections are examples of music drawing on theatre organ styles.
Concluding the concert will be Festival Toccata, Percy E. Fletcher (1879-1932), which “demonstrates without apology the full tonal resources of this instrument,” Hanson said. His hope is to “give people an appreciation of the organ not only as a church instrument but also capable of exhibiting other styles of music.”
Hanson, a resident of Hudson, has been the music director at St. Stephen for 12 years, but got his first job as a church organist at age 16, more than 50 years ago. At that time, he played the piano, and needed a little instruction to make the transition. Attracted by the “color and sound of the organ, I knew it was something I wanted to do.” He went on to study organ in college and beyond and has served churches in Maine, Ohio, and Massachusetts.
He holds a Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance from the University of Akron and has taken additional graduate study in organ, education, music education and musicology, and church music at Boston University, Framingham State College, University of Lowell, Curry College and Westminster Choir College. He also studied improvisation at Westminster Choir College with Otto Kramer. He is a Colleague of the American Guild of Organists.
Stan began piano lessons in the third grade, and continues not only to play piano during church services, but also teaches piano part-time at Mascari Piano Studios. In addition to playing the organ and piano at worship services at St. Stephen, Hanson directs the choral and handbell choirs. He has been active in community music, having been piano accompanist for the Worcester Youth Chorus and the Rivers Edge Youth Chorus and he served as music director for several shows at Hudson High School. While music has been a loved and active avocation for Stan, his career was in administration and transportation logistics.
For more information about St. Stephen Lutheran Church, visit the church’s Facebook page or website, www.saintstephenlutheran.com. Saint Stephen is a member of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (www.elca.org). Sunday worship is at 10:00 am, preceded by Sunday School for all ages at 9:00. Coffee and social hour takes place at 11:00.
The church is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, inviting people of every gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, marital status, or class. Parishioners come from Marlborough, Hudson, Berlin, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Stow, Sudbury, Maynard, and Bolton. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the nation’s largest Lutheran church, with approximately four million members split into 65 synods, or territories, across the United States and the Caribbean.