The Christmas season is the perfect time for a variety of sensory experiences that create lasting memories: the taste of candy canes, the sound of sleigh bells jingling, the texture of snowflakes falling on the skin, the fresh smell of a Christmas tree, the lights outside during the longest nights of the year. While the sense of taste and smell are generally best served at Christmas dinner, the senses of sight and sound are perhaps best employed on Christmas Eve by attending the carol service at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.
The historic downtown cathedral provides the stained-glass windows, wood carvings, varied lighting settings and large, Gothic interior required for a visual feast, while aural sensations can be found by listening to the Cathedral Choir, which includes members of the Madeleine Choir School, a school for children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade with a focus on choral performance. The choir will perform the music of William Byrd, Anton Bruckner and Herbert Howells, as well as plainchant and traditional carols, to the accompaniment of a 4,000-pipe organ.
Each year, the service begins with a solo child voice reciting the traditional Latin chant that translates as, “Drop down dew, you heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down the Just One.” The concert service offers a refuge from the typical hustle and bustle of the season, and a chance for attendees, Catholic or otherwise, to quietly contemplate the wonders of Christmas.