First Congregational Church is blessed with many talented members who make these annual musical services possible.
They are much anticipated and not to be missed!
For over a hundred years, First Congregational Church has continued its tradition of presenting The Christmas Mystery Pageant. This family tradition runs like a thread through the very fabric of the congregation's history, uniting generations and kindling memories of peace, joy, family, and community.
The Mystery is a musical drama complete with cherubs, angels, a seraph, wise men, and of course, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. Based on biblical accounts, church legends, and cherished Christmas carols, The Mystery began in 1912 with a script by Helen Street Ranney, the wife of the Reverend William Watson Ranney – the fifth minister of First Congregational Church. It is performed each Advent, on the Sunday before Christmas.
The Angel Choir is composed of our young people (high school through college) and the Seraph (lead angel) is sung by one of FCC's female vocalists. The Shepherds' roles are sung by members (high school and above), and the Wise Men solo parts are performed by baritone voices.
Cherub children (preschool through eight years old) of the congregation come forward during the pageant to present a gift of song before the manger. The ceramic figure of the "Bambino" (Christ Child) and the censer carried by one of the Wise Men were acquired in Italy by Dr. Alfred A. Blackman's family around 1900 and lent to FCC for use in The Mystery. In 2009, the Haney family gifted the family heirlooms to the church. The cruse for myrrh is like those from biblical times.
One of the greatest mysteries surrounding this tradition, is the identity of those who portray Mary and Joseph! It is a closely-guarded secret of the Team until the actual presentation, as a way of honoring a man and a woman for distinguished service to First Congregational Church in the previous year. The entire event is mysterious! With candles, darkness, singing, and the close gathering of many people, it is a beautiful and timeless process of portraying what the 'mystery' of Christmas is all about.
"This is the longest surviving tradition in our church," said Nancy Forgy who has served as The Mystery Pageant's chairperson for about fifteen years. "The Mystery Team, comprised of past years' Marys and Josephs, is devoted to maintaining The Mystery just as it always has been. It's a wonderful family tradition."
The Mystery usually begins with a
short organ recital, and a traditional
cookie and wassail reception in the Founders' Room follows the event. All
are invited to bake and provide homemade (nut-free) cookies, or bring cheese
and crackers, a bowl of tangerines, or something equally fitting!
Lords and Ladies of First Congregational UCC, hearken to this good news! Long an FCUCC tradition, The Madrigal dinner combines song, pageantry, drama, and more than just a little good-natured humor to celebrate the season of our Savior’s birth in true 16th century style. The Founders’ Room is transformed to the Feasting Hall, and our young people to pages, serving knaves and wenches.
Royalty, commoners, troubadours, arranged marriages, arranged non-marriages, beautiful choral works, the clash of cultures (really, the cultured
and less-cultured), and just a whiff of scandal!
Banquet guests assemble in the Sanctuary for musical entertainment and formal introductions of the Royal Court. They are then escorted to reserved seats in the Feasting Hall for a wonderful meal, and the kind of entertainment
that only our Madrigal players can provide.
The evening concludes with a lovely choir concert and the
candlelight singing by all of Silent Night. Huzzah!!
FUTURE DATE, TBD.