If you're considering heading to a church this Christmas, think about going to a house of worship with a gothic-gorgeous exterior and beautiful music within. The flying buttresses and stained glass of downtown's Christ Church Cathedral welcome all comers for a series of Nativity events.
The Episcopal funfest begins with a holiday concert at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 24, featuring resident organist William Partridge (pictured), guitarist/folksinger Lydia Ruffin and harpist Dr. Susan Taylor. (Partridge says that he has to play the organ real quietly so people can hear the harp, too.) The performers will tackle some works by early American and European composers.
The concert is followed by a 4 p.m. service, the "Christmas Service of Lessons and Carols," based on a twelfth-century Old English service. It includes a reading of the Christmas story, music and sing-alongs. A service just for kids -- with stories, carols and conversation in the life-size Nativity scene -- begins at 6 p.m. The 11 p.m. service is a festive midnight mass with "lots of candlelight, magnificent poinsettia decorations and great big wonderful wreaths in the bays, up and down the gothic structure of the cathedral," says Partridge.
After opening presents on Christmas morning, families troop in for a 10 a.m. service. Then, at 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 28, a special Yuletide Evensong service features the 30-person Cathedral choir. All events are free (13th at Locust streets, 314-231-3454, www.yourcathedral.org). -- Byron Kerman
Rock for Satan
Harkonin, local practitioners of traditional (read: "evil") black metal, suffer from the unfortunate circumstance of having taken their name from Frank Herbert's Dune, after the name had already been chosen by the Tacoma-based math-metal trio Harkonen. Is the world big enough for two radically different Harkonens, even with variant spellings to separate them? Eh, who cares. One listen to both bands guarantees you'll never confuse the two. Hark-onin (note the "i") are chainsaw-fast and tombstone-grim, splattering venom and blasphemy with malicious intent. Those are positives in black metal, as is the twin-guitar attack of Lael Clark and Drake Poeschel, whose combined style is reminiscent of the classic Kreator sound. Harkonin headline Holiday Hell Night at the Creepy Crawl (412 North Tucker Boulevard, 314-851-0919). Tickets are $6 to $8, and doors open at 9:30 p.m. -- Paul Friswold