The Mystery is a musical drama complete with angels, shepherds, a seraph, three wise men, and of course, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus.
Based on biblical accounts, church legends, and cherished Christmas carols, The Mystery began in 1912 with a script by Helen Street Ranney, the wife of the Reverend William Watson Ranney - the fifth minister of First
Congregational Church. It is performed each Advent, on the Sunday before Christmas. The Angel Choir is composed of our young people (high school through college) and the Seraph (lead angel) is sung by one of FCUCC's female vocalists. The Shepherds' roles are sung by members (high school and above), and the Wise Men solo parts are performed by baritone voices.
One of the greatest mysteries surrounding this tradition is the identity of those who portray Mary and Joseph! It is a closely guarded secret of the Mystery Team until the actual presentation, as a way of honoring two people for distinguished service to First Congregational Church in the previous year.
Cherub children (preschool through eight years old) of the congregation are invited up to the manger during the pageant to present a gift of song.
The ceramic figure of the "Bambino" (Christ Child) and the censer carried by one of the Wise Men were acquired in Italy by Dr. Alfred A. Blackman's family around 1900 and lent to FCUCC for use in The Mystery. In 2009, the Haney family gifted the family heirlooms to the church. The cruse for myrrh is like those from biblical times.
The entire event is mysterious! With candles, darkness, singing, and the close gathering of many people, it is a beautiful and timeless process of portraying what the 'mystery' of Christmas is all about. The Mystery Team, comprised of past years' Marys and Josephs, is devoted to maintaining
The Mystery just as it always has been. It's a wonderful family tradition, appropriate for all ages.
The Mystery will be held this year on Sunday, December 17, beginning at 4:00 p.m. with a short organ recital provided by Director of Music Ministry, David Acton. All are invited to bring home-baked (nut-free) cookies for the Cookie & Wassail Reception which will follow in the Founders' Room. All are welcome!