We're living in some deeply weird times, which are presenting some unique challenges, none more
For me, the Christmas season does not begin on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or even Giving Tuesday. It begins on the evening when Brown University holds its annual Latin Carol Service at Providence’s First Baptist Church.
I was not a Latin major. I do not currently live in Providence. I am not a Baptist. But sitting in those ancient pews, while the lights of the city gleam through soaring windows and the pipe organ’s majestic tones blend with words of a beautiful language long dead, I feel a wake-up call to the glory of the season.
Providence’s First Baptist Church is just that: first. Founded by Roger Williams in 1638, it is the oldest Baptist congregation in the United States. Built in classic white clapboard New England style, the Meetinghouse is as spare and elegant inside as out, with enclosed wooden pews, an arched ceiling, and a Waterford crystal chandelier. It is impossible to sit in that space and not be touched by both its significant history and its austere beauty.
The Carol Service is always crowded-with Classics Department faculty and students, with East Side friends and neighbors, with busloads of high school Latin students. Everyone takes a while to settle in.Then the 1834 pipe organ warms up, and the crowd proceeds to sing-in Latin. Hymns and carols are interspersed with readings in Latin and Greek. Words, some of them 2000+ years old, fill the space. And for me, that’s it: joy. Christmas has begun.
What moment makes Christmas ‘begin’ for you? What beloved tradition starts your holiday season? Whatever it is, indulge in it fully and delight in the joy it brings.
Drink long and hearty; drain the glass.