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Advent/Christmas service in Tortuga

The Euangelion Singers sing one of the Christmas hymns. Photo: Elmo Griffith

DESPITE the chilliness of the air at the Tortuga RC Church, it was the performances from the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (TTYP) and the Euangelion Singers and Band that made for a pore-raising experience during the church’s Advent/Christmas Carol Service Programme.

The event, held December 17, was hosted by parish priest, Fr Jose Marie and the Shrine Committee. The proceeds will   be   used   for   the   second   restoration   phase   of   the   church’s   building. This   restoration is expected to cost approximately $1 million.

The   evening   began   just   before   6 p.m. with the praying of the Angelus. The lights of the church were switched off as the musicians, all holding lit candles, processed to the strains of the well-known Advent hymn, ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’.

The TTYP then played GF Handel’s ‘The Royal Fireworks’ as the altar servers, readers and Fr Jose Marie also processed with lit candles. Music and   singing   followed   the   lighting   of   the   Advent   candles, scripture readings and meditations.

Under the musical directorship of Kenneth Listhrop, the TTYP performed traditional Advent and Christmas songs, ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’, ‘Do You Hear What I Hear’, ‘O Holy Night’ and also delivered ‘A Holy’ Christmas’, ‘Carol of the Bells’ and JS Bach’s ‘Sheep May Safely Graze’.

The   Euangelion   Singers   and   Band   delivered  ‘Above All   Names’,   ‘Rejoice’,  ‘The   Night That Christ Was Born’, ‘Drummer Boy’, ‘We Have Seen His Glory’ and led by Wayne Harris, ‘Angels from the Realms of Glory’. Soloist Errieka Wright’s smooth rendition of ‘Ordinary Baby’ also complimented the sacred space.

The groups joined together for impeccable presentations of ‘For Unto Us A Child Is Born’, “O Come All Ye Faithful’, Kirk Franklin’s ‘Hosanna’ and a pitch perfect ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo’ and ‘Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing’.

The ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ at the end of the programme left a mesmerising effect on the audience which included Fr Prabhudas, parish priest for Gran Couva/Tabaquite. The appreciative patrons then headed to the courtyard to partake of refreshments.

During the vote of thanks, President of the church’s Shrine Committee, Diane Bertrand stated, “Between   the   years   2000   and   2004, this   Shrine   was   restored   to   its   original magnificence and now, 13 years later, we are about to embark on another exciting new journey of a second-restoration   project.”   She   explained   that sections of the   rafters needed  “immediate attention” through replacement or repair and that the Shrine Committee, working closely with the Archdiocesan Restoration experts, had developed a restoration framework beginning in 2018 with an expected date of completion of 2020 at an estimated cost of $1million.

She   made   special   mention   of   all   who   would   have   supported   and   continue   to   support   the Committee.   This   included KAP   Designs, JUSAMCO   and   fire officer   Egon   Durity   who spearheaded   the   Emergency   Evacuation   Plan.   She   also   thanked Caribbean Welding Supplies Limited which provided a spot light on the beautiful stained glasses, the backdrop to the altar.

Bertrand commended the young people of the orchestra for the “fire” they brought to the church and encouraged patrons to support these talented youths.

Special mention was also made of one of the Shrine Committee’s “biggest supporters,” Mervyn Telfer who passed away earlier this year. Bertrand said he attended all of their fundraising events, made generous donations and assisted the Committee. In his memory, his family sponsored the booklets for the Advent/Christmas Carol Service. – a parishioner