The 14th annual community lesson and song service will be held at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 215 N. Seventh St. at 4:00 pm on December 12th.
The service follows a traditional form of Christian worship celebrating the birth of Jesus. The “Nine Lessons and Carols” format was first presented on Christmas Eve in 1880 in Cornwall, England. The service has been adopted by many Christians as part of their Christmas celebrations.
In 1918, King’s College, Cambridge, England presented its first “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols”. This service was first broadcast in 1928 and has been broadcast every year except one since. This traditional service is so popular in England that people start lining up the night before in hopes of getting one of the 650 seats in the chapel. The service traditionally includes a lot of pageantry, with banners and great pomp and ceremony. The song includes Christmas carols from the King’s College Choir and the congregation. The nine lessons, which are the same each year, are read by representatives from the college and the city of Cambridge.
The St. Stephen’s service features community leaders reading familiar passages from the Advent and Christmas scriptures. The Farrington Grove Choir will sing Christmas carols and hymns. The hymns will be sung by the congregation and the choir.
Readers include Dr Millie Vaughn, VCSC administrator representing the academic community; Faith Ellison, 6th grade student at Honey Creek Middle School, representing the youth community; Samantha Johnson-Helms, executive director and conductor of the Terre Haute Symphony representing musicians and artists from the community; the Reverend Tim Voll of the Memorial United Methodist Church representing the faith community: Mayor Duke Bennett representing the city of Terre Haute; Jackie Lower, President of the Vigo County School Board, representing community leaders; and Rondrell Moore, of WTHI television station representing the media community.
The Reverend Drew Downs, Rector of St. Stephen’s, will be the officiant.
The chorale opens with a joyful hymn, “Laudate Dominum” by Steve Sandberg, followed by “O Magnum Mysterium” by Michael John Trotta to announce the birth of Christ. This will follow “In Dulci Jubilo” by Matthew Culloton, followed by “To Thee My Heart I Offer” by Elaine Hagenberg. Dan Forrest’s hymn “The Works of Christmas” will be sung, followed by Daniel Schreiner’s “Cold December Flies Away”. The chorale will end with a hymn titled “There is Faint Music” by Dan Forrest, which describes the beauty of Christmas.
The Farrington Grove Choir is a 19-part chamber choir conducted by Mark Carlisle, professor at Indiana State University. The choral accompanist is Susan Farris, organist at the Presbyterian Church in Paris, Illinois. Dennis Dieken, organist at St. Stephen’s will present the prelude, postlude and hymns.
Babysitting service will be available and there is no admission charge. A reception will be held in the Great Hall after the service.