Christmas Lessons & Carols

Mrs. Kirstin Peltz, BTA Music faculty, opened last week's "Lessons and Carols" Chapel with the Call to Worship:

I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord."
For in God's house we shall find hope and healing.
In God's house we shall find forgiveness and friendship.
May peace be within the walls of this house of God.
Come, let us go to the house of the Lord.
Come, let us sing our praises to God who loves and redeems us.

She then led attendees in the singing of Dona Nobis Pacem, after which Mr. Timothy Belk gave a brief history of the Lessons and Carols service.

The origins of the tradition of Lessons and Carols are attributed to Truro Cathedral in Cornwall, but later became associated with Kings College, Cambridge. Traditionally celebrated on or near Christmas Eve, it is also known as the "Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols," a service of nine carols interspersed with scripture readings, or lessons.

The service has not changed over the many years since it started, using the same songs and scriptures and so "becomes an echo of the unchanging reality of the story," said Mr. Belk. "The tone is both solemn and joyful."

Boston Trinity's observance did not include all nine carols, but did follow tradition by beginning the service with "Once in Royal David's City." The carol was followed by the reading of Jeremiah 33:14-16:

"The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them. In those days and at that time I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David's line. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. In that day Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this will be its name: 'The Lord is Our Righteousness.'"

The service continued with "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," Matthew 3:1-12, and "In the Bleak Mid-Winter." Next, the Bidding Prayer was read, which begins with a lovely supplication asking God to "let it be our duty and delight to hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which has come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger. Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this holy Child; and let us make this place glad with our carols of praise."

The remainder of the service consisted of "Amid the Winter's Snow," Luke 1:26-38, "Unto Us is Born a Son," Luke 2:10-14, and "O Come All Ye Faithful."