So you’ve attended a Living Christmas Tree service and are wondering what do the lights mean? The lights have a meaning? Yes! The lights enhance the message (words, music, narration) of the cantata.
Each colour has a distinct meaning and will be turned on during specific times when certain words are spoken and sung. The intensity of the colours changes as the music and beat intensifies.
Lights and their meaning:
Green = creation
Blue = sky, night
Gold = royalty, light
Red = richness, royalty, redemption
Cross = Messiah, salvation, redemption
Star = intensity changes when the star is sung about
Light = star, icicles, twinkles
Blue and Gold background lights = Bethlehem. With the wooden spears behind the top of the tree structure it looks a little like what Bethlehem might look like.
Light and Sound: Making it all come together
A small flat board with coloured thumb tacks and white plastic arrows is used when the lighting for each song/narration is being determined. On the board, around each thumb tack, is written “touch 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and full.” (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and full refer to the placement of the dial, which controls the intensity/brightness of each individual colour, twinkle and icicle light, background lighting, cross, and star.) As the music is listened to, and a colour is decided, the arrow is moved to one of the markings on the dial. If there are more colours on, the arrow is moved to the designated spot. If the star is on, that tack with the arrow is moved, and/or the cross/or background lights. All of the colours and brightness is written into the lighting book over each word / phrase that is spoken / sung. It’s easier to watch our team at the lighting panel than it is to explain how it all works!
Once the dials are turned on the lighting board there is a need to make sure the two volunteers have enough hands to turn the dials and make sure they are ready for the next changes. Transitions from one piece of music to the next through narration have to be written in. Again, colours are used to emphasize the message being spoken. Our lighting crew members are not able to watch the tree light up each night. Their eyes and hands are constantly moving on the dials from one transition to the next!
A pointer is at each station (lighting and sound). These are two people who read music and are able to keep the light people on track and help the sound person with mics during each song selection.
The process to design the lighting interpretation takes many hours with a group discussing the message of each song and possible colours. Once this has been done, the lighting technician and sound assistant spend many more hours preparing the light book with the colours and the sound book with the narrators, soloists, their placement in the tree, and when to turn the mics on and off. The sound people also control when the house lights come on and off.
There are so many things to think about when it comes to sound and light. We send a HUGE thank you to our volunteers for the many hours they spend each year organizing the lighting and sound for the services!