by Betty Boyd
I have been living in the Tennessee Valley for twenty years. While married to my late husband, we never really celebrated the traditional Christmas. So most of my adult life, I did not have any Christmas traditions. Growing up, our family had the usual waiting for Santa Claus to give us gifts, but that’s as far as it went.
I had always wanted to attend midnight mass. I joined St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Athens, Alabama in 2009 and joined their choir later that year. They sang every year at midnight mass. Here was my “in.”
The choir starts preparing in late October. I wasn’t sure I could get into singing sacred Christmas songs this early, so I decided to listen to what each song was really saying about the birth of Jesus. This made it easier for me to sing.
Just after Thanksgiving, the pressure is on in rehearsals. The choir director is making sure we go through all the music as many times as we can fit in, to make it as perfect as possible. I am starting to feel nervous, for this is the first midnight mass in which I will be singing.
The day has arrived. It is Christmas Eve, and I hope I am prepared for this special event. Throughout the day, I keep thinking–can I do a good enough job to show God I truly glorify and love Him? Though I have participated in some form of choir all my life, I have never been this nervous about singing. Am I up to the challenge?
I arrive at the church at least 45 minutes early. The singing for the midnight mass starts at 11:30 while the congregation files in. The choir’s music is performed by two brothers on acoustic electric guitars, along with other electronic accompaniment. We have a small choir of 10 people, which makes it both beautiful and unique in performing.
The live music helps me sing better with the choir. We sing throughout the two-hour-long mass. As each song is performed, I feel closer and closer to God. For the first time in my life, I feel as though it is really Christmas.
Singing at midnight mass has been my tradition for five years now. I practice with the choir in preparation. I find the songs more beautiful and their meaning more special. Singing at midnight mass inspires me to know that the true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May your Christmas be blessed by the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.