The St. Mary Mokena choirs will revive an old Swedish tradition as part of the parish’s annual Christmas concert in the church on Friday, December 13th at 7:00 pm.
The free concert’s theme will revolve around St. Lucy’s Day, a Catholic feast that is popularly observed in Nordic countries like Sweden. Its hallmark is a woman dressed in white who wears a crown of candles on her head and a red sash, representing the third-century saint and martyr.
Organizers call the concert a “Do It Yourself Christmas Concert” because audience members are invited to sing along from one of four specially-designated areas of the church: Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass, depending on their vocal range. There will also be a seating section reserved for those wishing to listen to the concert without participating.
The concert will begin with a candlelit procession by the children’s choir. “The children will be dressed in white, and one girl will represent St. Lucy by wearing the crown of candles,” says Simonetta M. Pacek, Associate Director of Sacred Music at St. Mary and the concert’s lead organizer.
A string ensemble, harp, trumpet, and organ will accompany the choirs, which will perform traditional Christmas songs like “O Holy Night” and “Ring Christmas Bells,” along with traditional Swedish hymns like “Lucia” and “Den Signade Dag.” Two professional soloists will also perform.
St. Lucy was a third-century martyr remembered for bringing food to Christians hiding in the catacombs during the Roman persecutions. Since the catacombs were dark, she needed to light her way with candles. According to legend, in order to carry the food with both hands, she wore the candles on a wreath around her head.
Eventually, Saint Lucy was killed for her faith. The red sash worn by modern reenactors represents the blood of her martyrdom. Her feast day is on December 13th.
“The whole idea for the concert having a St. Lucy theme is that it falls on her feast day this year,” explains Pacek. “St. Lucy gets associated with bringing light, which is very Christmas-themed with Christ also being light.”
The concert is free to attend, and all are welcome. The parish will hold a reception after the concert and serve special Swedish St. Lucia buns. For more information, contact Simonetta at SPacek@StMaryMokena.org.