Invitation: Lessons & Carols

If you live in the DFW area and are looking for something Christmassy – and FREE – to do tomorrow (Sunday the 18th) evening, consider yourself invited to the Lessons & Carols service at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grand Prairie. It begins at 7:00 PM, and there's a reception afterwards.

According to the website for the King's College (Cambridge) Chapel :

The original service was, in fact, adapted from an Order drawn up by E.W. Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury, for use in the wooden shed, which then served as his cathedral in Truro, at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve 1880. A.C. Benson recalled: â˜My father arranged from ancient sources a little service for Christmas Eve â“ nine carols and nine tiny lessons, which were read by various officers of the Church, beginning with a chorister, and ending, through the different grades, with the Bishop.â™ The suggestion had come from G.H.S. Walpole, later Bishop of Edinburgh.

Almost immediately other churches adapted the service for their own use. A wider frame began to grow when the service was first broadcast in 1928 and, with the exception of 1930, it has been broadcast annually, even during the Second World War, when the ancient glass (and also all heat) had been removed from the Chapel and the name of Kingâ™s could not be broadcast for security reasons. Sometime in the early 1930s the BBC began broadcasting the service on overseas programmes. It is estimated that there are millions of listeners worldwide, including those to Radio Four in the United Kingdom. In recent years it has become the practice to broadcast a digital recording on Christmas Day on Radio Three, and since 1963 a shorter service has been filmed periodically for television. Recordings of carols by Decca and EMI have also served to spread its fame.

As tradition requires, our service opens with “Once in royal David's city,” and includes formal anthems, readings, and familiar carols, and through most of it, the congregation is encouraged to sing along. We've been rehearsing Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings since Thanksgiving, both to blend our choir with that of St. Joseph's Episcopal Church (also in Grand Prairie), and to learn the music, and we were told last week that the presiding Bishop of our diocese will be attending. Children from St. Andrew's school choir will also be participating, and there will be a brass quintet as well. It's not a Mass (there is no Eucharist), just a festive service.

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