School of Music


Master of Arts in Music and Worship (MA)


Jerry Leonard Newman


Christmas, Cantata, Transformational, Advent, Choral, Music


Liturgy and Worship | Music | Religion


The purpose of this worship ministry research project was to research, prepare for, and lead a Christmas cantata presentation for two worship services at First United Methodist Church in Georgetown, Texas, on Sunday, December 12, 2021. In this thesis, I identified the worship components and the accompanying potential challenges for successfully leading a vital and converging traditional Christmas Sunday worship in a way that promotes authentic, biblically-centered, Christocentric, and participatory worship services for a church community.” The Christmas cantata was a musical composition set for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices (SATB) with instrumental accompaniment including solos, chorus, chamber orchestra, pipe organ, and keyboard synthesizer. Each musical piece was prefaced with a narrative and Gospel reading that recounted the Christmas story, very similar to a “lessons and carols” service. There were six primary research areas covered in this project: 1) Assessing and determining which Gospel or combination of Gospels and biblical translations best communicates the events surrounding the story of Jesus' birth; 2) Evaluating and selecting appropriate lessons and carols music from Hal Hopson's work; 3) Exploring and choosing additional choral works from Beckenhorst Press and Augsburg Fortress to intersperse and highlight particular aspects of the Christmas story; 4) Working with the Liturgical Arts and Worship Technology Ministries teams to determine physical and digital visual expressions of worship that would accentuate the story and enrich the worship experience; 5) Researching and implementing COVID-19 prevention and mitigation practices for rehearsals and the Sunday services to protect musicians and congregation members; and 6) Designing a pattern of biblical worship that would retell the Christmas story as the fulfillment of our Advent expectation in which the work of restoring creation has begun. Lastly, the single core concept of the ministry project was the retelling of the Christmas story with carefully selected Scripture readings, narration, and music so that it took worshipers on a transformational spiritual journey of hope and redemption.