The Choir of St. Marys United Church will present A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Sunday, Dec. 22 at 3 p.m. at St. Marys United Church, 85 Church Street South.
Director of Music Timothy Gilbert will conduct the choir, and Ian Sadler, Conductor of the Stratford Concert Choir, will be the guest organist for the service.
The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, introduced at King’s College, Cambridge, England in 1918, tells the story of the birth of Christ through traditional scripture readings, carols and the great hymns of Christmas.
The service begins very simply, with a single voice singing Once in Royal David’s City in the same manner that great stories commence with the famous opening of “Once upon a time...”. The Christmas story is traced from Adam and Eve and the original sin, through the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of the Messiah, and finally reaches its climax with the New Testament revelations of the birth of Christ.
Woven around the lessons are carols and hymns to be sung by the choir and congregation. In addition to the congregational singing, the choir will perform carols such as In the Bleak Mid-winter, Ding-dong! Merrily on High, Sussex Carol, and Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day.
This year’s service will feature a setting of Torches by the late Brian Emery. Emery was the Director of Music at St. Marys Presbyterian Church for many years, and was the guest organist for the past two years for the Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols. His delightful setting of Torches was the winner of the Amadeus Choir Christmas Carol Competition in 1996.
Ten years after A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was introduced in King’s College, the BBC decided to broadcast it live, a Christmas Eve tradition that continues today with a radio signal broadcast to millions around the world.
With the fame of the service spreading because of the broadcasts, more and more people began coming to King’s to witness the service for themselves, to the point that today the line-up for the service begins many hours before the service actually begins.
All are invited to attend this traditional English candlelit carol service. It is guaranteed to put you in the “Christmas Spirit”!