Boston has long been a focal point of the Catholic Church in America, for good and ill. But the Faith endures, and now one of its local institutions has delivered a thing of pure beauty for Christmas.
Available now for download and on CD from Universal Music Classics/Decca Records, “Christmas in Harvard Square” is a selection of sacred choral music — from “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” to “Mater Ora Filium” and “Angelus Ad Virginem” — from the Boys of St Paul’s Choir School.
For Christmas-music purists (despite my love of Pentatonix’s Christmas CDs and all the songs from the Rankin/Bass version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and the animated “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” I usually default to sacred music or ancient carols), there’s not a “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” or “Jingle Bells” to be heard.
Located at the Church of St. Paul at Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass. — also home to a well-attended prayer vigil to counteract a Satanic black mass near Harvard this past May — the Catholic school, founded in 1963, serves boys in fourth through eighth grade, offering a rigorous academic and musical education. The boys also sing soprano in the church’s choir of both boys and men, at liturgical services and around the Boston area (and other places, such as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., and at St. Peter’s Basilica, for Pope Francis).
Even the aggressively secular Los Angeles Times was impressed with “Christmas in Harvard Square,” with a review saying the CD is “gorgeously sung” and contains “moments of otherworldly beauty.”
In its round-up of new Christmas music, the Wall Street Journal said the CD was “uplifting hypnotic music that melts holiday stress.”
If you’d like to check out a preview of the music before buying the CD, watch the video below, which is an excerpt from a PBS special called “Christmas in Harvard Square.” Check local listings for time and station in your area, but for Bostonians, it airs Friday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m. ET on WGBH; and people in the New York City area can see it on Sunday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. ET., on WNET/Thirteen.
The choirboys are also making the rounds of the morning shows, including the Saturday, Dec. 6, edition of Fox News’ “Fox & Friends Weekend,” which starts at 6 a.m. ET, with the choir scheduled to appear at 8:50 a.m. ET (the show is live in all time zones, so adjust accordingly).
If you are, or will be, in the Boston area, the boys are singing several times at St. Paul’s — click here for details and to purchase tickets. Count me as officially jealous of anyone lucky enough to be in the pews.