Christ Church presents Lessons & Carols on Dec. 8


On Sunday, December 8, the Christ Episcopal Church Adult Choir will celebrate the beginning of the Advent season by presenting the Festival Service of Nine Lessons and Carols. The Advent season is a time for prayer and preparation for the coming of the Christ Child on Christmas Day. For 100 years this English tradition has ushered in the season, which is marked by the decoration of the church with winter greenery and the lighting of the Advent wreath.

The service will begin at 6:00 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Tuscaloosa and is free and open to the public. A nursery will be provided.

“Our adult choir will sing a selection of chants and anthems to introduce the season of Advent,” according to Doff Procter, Christ Church Director of Music. Procter is also conductor of the St. Cecilia Singers who will join the adults on two pieces.

The program will open with the tolling of the church bell to summon the people to prayer. Then the choirs will sing a medieval chant from the nave in the back of the church. The “Matin Responsory” is from an early Roman rite, later adapted by Renaissance composer Giovanni Palestrina.

Advent carols sung by the choir are “Adam lay ybounden,” a 15th century poem set to music by Boris Ord, and “Lo, he comes with clouds descending,” an 18th century English melody with arrangement by David Willcocks.

Anthems are “E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come” with text from Revelation and music by Paul Manz; “Lift up your heads, O ye gates” from Psalm 24, music by William Mathias; “And the glory of the Lord” from Handel’s Messiah, and “A Maiden Most Gentle,” words by the Venerable Bede sung to a French tune arranged by Andrew Carter, with soprano soloist Julia Schwendenmann.

Members of the congregation and choir will read scripture lessons from both the Old and New Testaments about the coming of the Messiah.

Congregational hymns include the traditional “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” accompanied by hand bells, “I sing the almighty power of God,” “How brightly shines the Morning Star,” “Come, Thou long expected Jesus” and the final hymn “Once in royal David’s city,” also featuring the St. Cecilia Singers and hand bells.

The Christ Church adult choir is made up of parishioners and University of Alabama faculty and students. Music director is Doff Procter, and organist is Dr. Steven Taranto. The St. Cecilia Singers include students in grades 3-7.

The Reverend David Meginniss is rector of Christ Church; the Reverend

Dr. Catherine Collier is associate rector. Following the service, a reception will be held in the atrium. Christ Episcopal Church is on the corner at 605 Lurleen B. Wallace Boulevard North, Tuscaloosa. Call 205-758-4252 for further information.


Advent, a word derived from a Latin word meaning “arrival,” begins four weeks before the Festival of Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve.

In England in 1880, the Bishop of Truro, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, created the service of Advent Lessons and Carols for use in his cathedral. This service includes carols by both the choir and the congregation, accompanied by lessons from the Bible describing the coming of the Messiah, as well as the Second Coming at the end of the present age.

Some years later in 1918, the Lessons and Carols service was adapted for the chapel by the Very Reverend Eric Milner-White, Dean of King’s College-Cambridge. The service has since become a tradition of the Advent season at King’s College in Cambridge, England, and is broadcast throughout the world on Christmas Eve.


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