By Lou Allocco
During this time of the year before Christmas, when we can become so stressed and distracted by various outside worldly activities, it is refreshing to experience a spiritual oasis which brings us back to recognizing the true meaning of the Christmas season. On December 17, 2023, the Catholic faith community of St. Elizabeth Seton was treated to “Awakenings, The Coming of Christ”, a magnificent musical presentation which greatly enhanced the holiness of the Advent Season.
Instead of songs about snowmen, sleigh rides, and Santa Claus, this Advent/Christmas Canata focused solely on Jesus, putting God first during this holy and joyful time of the year. Directed by our parish liturgical and musical minister, Steve Raml, this wonderful event featured selections from renowned contemporary Catholic composer Joe Mattingly, who is involved with the Newman Center at the University of Iowa. Steve created Awakenings by interlacing Joe’s compositions with pertinent scriptural-based proclamations. The music included “The King Shall Come”, “Christmas Lullaby”, “O Come O Come Emmanuel”, “On That Holy Mountain”, “Canticle of Zechariah”, “The Child Prince”, “Sweet Child Jesus”, “O How Joyfully”, and “’Twas on Christmas Day”. Several of these songs were led by soloists who expressed these beautiful arrangements in a truly uplifting manner, while the interspersed proclamations were done passionately by lectors.
The music ministry at any parish is extremely important in enhancing the celebration of the Holy Mass, and we at St. Elizabeth Seton are truly blessed with Steve, his wife Teri, and many other very talented musicians and singers who give so much of themselves to this ministry. Steve stated that the choir had practiced harder for this presentation of Awakenings than for any other musical performance in the last two and a half years. Even though this concert was offered free as a gift to the parish community, it easily equaled that which would cost a premium price if performed in any professional arena.