The "Independence Hall of American Methodism" invites people to enjoy a Christmas concert each December.
Barratt's Chapel in Frederica, Delaware was built in 1780 by a Methodist Society. It was at Barratt's Chapel that Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury first officially celebrated the sacraments of communion and baptism and therefore turned a religious movement into the Methodist Church in America. The Quaker-style pews and intimate space heighten the experience of the 2016 Lessons & Carols service featuring the Wesley College Choir, the Delaware Choral Society and four more community choirs.
"Sometimes I think about how worshippers were singing those same carols here, same notes, same words, 200 years ago, and that's special," says James Wilson, Associate Professor of Music at Wesley College in Delaware. Enjoy this excerpt from the 2016 concert, brought to you by United Methodist Communications. Merry Christmas everyone!
(Choir sings “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”)
James Wilson, Associate Professor of Music, Wesley College: “This is our annual service of Lessons and Carols and it’s a collaboration between Wesley College and choirs from the community. The stories, they tell of the coming of Jesus and Christ’s birth in the New Testament. I try to match the theme of the carols with the themes of each reading.”
(Continued singing of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”)
Barb Duffin, Barratt’s Chapel: “Welcome to Barratt’s Chapel. We really appreciate all of you coming to celebrate Christmas with us. The chapel you’re sitting in was built in 1780. It’s the oldest building in the United States still in use built as a Methodist place of worship.”
Russ McCabe, President, Commission on Archives and History Peninsula-Delaware Conference: “Barratt’s Chapel is the cradle of American Methodism, so called, and that it is. And what better place to celebrate the birth of Christ than here in the birthplace of American Methodism.”
Philip Lawson, Historian, Peninsula-Delaware Conference: “Tonight let us hear again the holy Scriptures and the tale they tell of the loving purposes of God from the very first day of our creation to the glorious redemption that is brought to us in the child Jesus. And let us make this house of prayer a place glad with our carols of praise.”
(Choir sings “O Lord Hear My Prayer”)
Alana Walker, Wesley College Choir: “At this time of year, the days start to get shorter and you’re rushed all the time. It’s just a beautiful thing to look forward to with all the hymns that you’re singing. It just brings you back and sets you in place.”
(Continued singing, “O Lord Hear My Prayer”)
Elizabeth Hazlett, Wesley College Choir: “Singing these lyrics isn’t just singing them, it’s actually praising God for me. This has got to be my favorite choir occasion throughout the whole year.”
(Continued singing, “O Lord Hear My Prayer”)
Mark Douyard, Presbyterian Church of Dover: “For unto us a child is born, unto a son is given and the government shall be on his shoulder. And his name shall be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and the peace there shall be no end. He will reign upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, establishing and holding it, with judgment and justice from that time and forever.”
(Choir sings “Coventry Carol”)
Mollie Raley-Hall, Wesley United Methodist Church: “We’re just grateful to have the chance to come here in this very historic and nearly hallowed grounds, really, in terms of the origins of the church. It’s just a real privilege.”
James Wilson, Associate Professor of Music, Wesley College: “Sometimes I think about how worshippers were singing those same carols here--same notes, same words--200 years ago, and that’s special.”
(Choir sings, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”)
Kia Smith: “And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed and all went to be taxed, every one, to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, onto the city of David, which is now called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was that while they were there the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.”
(Choir sings, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”)
Mollie Raley-Hall, Wesley United Methodist Church: “You just feel the Spirit lift us up. We were up in there in the balcony, and to have everybody’s voice come from down here and lift up…. Well, you get, I’m getting goose pimples talking about it right now. That’s when you really feel this is community. The Spirit is here.”
(Continued singing of “O Little Town of Bethlehem”)
The Rev. Vicki Gordy-Stith: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word. And without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not extinguish it. The word of the Lord.”
(All sing “O Come All Ye Faithful”)
James Wilson, Associate Professor of Music, Wesley College: “Everybody can have their own unique experience and memories and feelings about the music they hear. And everybody comes away feeling like the music touched them in a certain way.”
(All sing “Silent Night”)
Steve Hall, Wesley United Methodist Church: “The history of the whole place is just wonderful. It’s just phenomenal to be able to worship together this way.”
(Continued singing of “Silent Night”)
Russ McCabe, President, Commission on Archives and History, Peninsula-Delaware Conference: “Music has been a part of our worship for centuries, literally. I think of my grandmother who used to say that the most beautiful instrument is the human voice raised in song. Well, we heard those beautiful instruments here this evening. There was something special about it. You could hear a pin drop, literally, in this place. I don’t think there’s anyone that didn’t appreciate tonight the beauty of coming together in worship and song.”
Learn more about Barratt's Chapel. See other features about the history of The United Methodist Church.
This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Fran Walsh, 615-742-5458.
This video was first posted on December 13, 2016.