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Hallelujah! Annual Christmas Concert Fills the House

by MOSAIC Editorial Team

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Concert-goers were treated with an historical sampling of moving seasonal music spanning five centuries at Sacred Heart's annual Christmas concert, Friday, December 2. The three earliest pieces were from the sixteenth century, performed by the standing Liturgical Choir of Sacred Heart and also the seminary's Concert Chorale. Other devotional compositions were by classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach (Cantata No. 142 and its eight movements), and by twentieth century composers Pavel Tchesnokov and Franz Biebl.

Dr. Ronald Prowse, Sacred Heart's liturgical music director and associate professor of music, skillfully conducted the choir and chorale. The choir is made up of undergraduate and graduate seminarians, while the chorale is composed of lay students studying for a diploma in sacred music, joined by alumni, friends of the seminary, and members of the staff and faculty, current and former.

A near-capacity crowd of over five hundred guests enjoyed the event. The Christmas concert has been a tradition as Sacred Heart for over sixty years.

As in previous years, special guests performed at the concert. The seminary's Hispanic music choir, directed by Rubi Martinez-Bernat, sang three numbers, including Los Pastores a Belen (The Shepherds at Bethlehem), a joyful traditional carol. Rubi is music director at St. Gabriel Parish in Wyandotte and directs the Hispanic choir each Friday morning at Sacred Heart's weekly Spanish Mass.

Fourth-year seminarian Deacon Patrick Setto and fellow Chaldean Lorna Shaya sang a duet of the Chaldean hymn Shlama Ilokh Yosip Kena (Hail to You Righteous Joseph). Bishop Emeritus Sarhad Jammo of the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle, a scholar of Chaldean history, liturgy, and language, composed the work.

Seminarians James Bird and Joshua Kenny performed brass solos to Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze."

To the delight of the audience, Msgr. Todd Lajiness, Sacred Heart's rector, was a special guest performer. He played guitar while singing Glory to God. Monsignor was joined by his cousin, John Lajiness, Sacred Heart alumnus and director of religious education at St. John Vianney Parish in Shelby Township, who accompanied himself on the piano while singing He Is the Light. Both performers were backed by seminarians Deacon Anthony Smela on bass and Stephen Blaxton on drums.

Long-time guest the Michigan Sinfonietta, an orchestra of concert musicians mainly from the Ann Arbor area, played accompaniment to much of the evening's vocal music. The concert ended with a rousing Christmas medley arranged by Dr. Prowse, and the famous Hallelujah! of George Frideric Handel, performed by the combined choirs. The piece included audience participation to send off the guests in a bright holiday mood.

If you missed this year's Christmas concert, consider marking your 2017 calendar early. The concert is always held on the first Friday in December.

Are you a lay alumnus? Why not attend the lay alumni Christmas social prior to the concert? This annual event brought together over one hundred former lay students of the seminary, along with their family members and friends. The attendees enjoyed appetizers and beverages and earned reserve seating to the concert. Contact Emily Berschback, Sacred Heart's alumni coordinator, for more information: 313-596-7424,

MOSAIC Editorial Team

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.