Each December, Saint Francis of Assisi Church invites the community and the public at large to gather in our Church to enjoy “Lessons and Carols," a Christmas celebration that dates back well over one hundred years and is followed around the world in a multitude of different places. The most famous celebration comes from the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge University, in England (celebrated each year from 1918 to the present day) although the first festival of its kind can be traced to Truro, Cornwall, England, in 1880.
Through poignant readings from the Old and New Testaments interspersed with beautiful music, the congregation is invited to reflect on the birth of Jesus in the context of its significance in salvation history.
The theme of the celebration centers on the Magnificat, the Blessed Virgin Mary's response to her cousin Elizabeth's praise of her faith, as retold in the Gospels. The Magnificat sets the theme for the entire celebration: here we see God praised for the love, compassion and justice bestowed upon the world, especially the poor and the lowly and, above all else, for having honored the promise of a Messiah made generations before Mary’s own time.
The celebration begins in semi darkness while the choir and Priest process in with the assembly joining in singing O Come, O Come, Emanuel and then with the readings from the Old Testament, which relate to the promises God made to Israel, with texts from the Prophets depicting the sorry state of humanity and its yearning and need for the coming Messiah, God’s Anointed One: out of the darkness shall emerge light, out of sorrow, joy. The New Testament readings reflect the fulfillment of these promises and tell the story of the Nativity of Jesus.
The carols and hymns that accompany the readings are specially chosen and sung by our Saint Francis of Assisi Choir, with Saint David Episcopal Bell Choir and Choir, and Faith Lutheran Choirs joining us along with the assembly.
This year we are joined by our Religious Education students and their families in helping with the preparations and volunteering to be part of the procession, bearing the Book of Gospels, and candles as well as to deliver the readings – the lessons – themselves. Members of the Ministry of Hospitality will assist with ushering and directing guests. Our Parish Women’s Guild will host a Christmas Cookie Reception in the Parish Hall afterwards.
Sincerely in Christ,
Father Richard York, Pastor
Nadine Goodrich, Director of Liturgy and Music