Father Higginbotham asked me to prepare the hearts and minds of the parish for our Advent Lessons & Carols service, this year at Grace Church on Sunday, December 13 at the 10:45 AM service of worship. The truth of the history of this service lies in the need for Christians in all ages to learn of the Christ Child, and in exercising patience in December. One can have an Epiphany Lessons & Carols Service, or a Pentecost Lessons & Carols Service, but the human heart seems to have a need for recollection in Advent each year, thereby creating a lasting tradition for the need for a service of nine scriptural lessons, followed by nine musical compositions pertaining to the season or a given scripture, in reflection on the coming of Christ. Hence, the annual preoccupation of an Advent version of this service.
There is also an academic justification of a service in Advent. In Britain, over many early centuries, a frustration developed in academic institutions borne of dispersion of students prior to Christmas Eve. Chapel choirs had prepared music in anticipation and adoration of the Christ Child, but by the time Christmas Eve was upon the community, the lads (then, all male schools) were back at home, and in all likelihood, singing in the choir lofts in the parishes and cathedrals of their childhood.
The codification of an Advent Lessons & Carols service is older than history books carefully record. However, Bishop Benson of Truro Cathedral (England) developed in 1880 the format we currently use, which has been changed a wee here and there, but to which we have adhered for the last 135 years. The tracing of the mystery of the Christ Child from its first hints in the Bible until the arrival of the babe in Bethlehem is delineated. This teaching bears recall every year as we follow the worn-road path to Christmas Eve.
Both the Choristers and the Parish Choir of Grace Church will participate in our Advent Service of Lessons & Carols on December 13 of this year. I commend this service to our ears and hearts in two ways. First, we need to have this bit of Christian history drummed into us annually, and, having commissioned the choirs to prepare for this journey, we very much need to support their work.
You will be blessed by hearing, again, the story of the coming of Christ. Please be in attendance on December 13 at 10:45 AM.
Dr. David Burton-Brown,
Director of Music/Organist
Photos from the 2012 Advent Lessons & Carols service at Grace Church.