I attended midnight mass at St. Ann’s last night. My husband’s brass quintet was playing from the choir loft, which is what brought a non-Catholic like me out in the fog and rain. We were there early so the group could get in a quick rehearsal with the choir, which left me plenty of time to enjoy the peace of the church when I had it more or less to myself.
Around 11:30, the choir and quintet started the prelude music as the faithful came in. There was a wide representation in the cathedral: little girls in long dresses and mantillas, teenagers in dresses short and sparkly, altarboys in cassocks and surplices, parents soothing tired children, old ladies and men struggling to kneel in genuflection, a middle-aged woman in dreds and Juicy sweatpants, people speaking Spanish, English, some southeast Asian language, some eastern European language–in short, a real cross-section of Charlotte. And me, taking it all in with awe and joy. I’m a religious tourist there, but a respectful one.
The lights, the incense, the procession of the cross, the grand red swath of poinsettias on the altar, and of course the music, all combined to make for a stunning night. I had chills when, after the Eucharist, the choir sang Silent Night a capella while the people kneeled in prayer. And hearing Hark! The Herald Angels Sing with trumpet fanfare coming from the rafters of the church at the close of the mass really brings home the joy intended in that song. Afterwards, hot chocolate and donuts among the luminaria on the walkway in the fog. It was glorious.
Peace and love, y’all. Peace and love.