Festival of Lessons & Carols set for Dec. 23

The St. Andrew’s Choir, along with children and youth of St. Andrew’s, will present the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols during the Liturgy of the Word at the 9 a.m. service on the last Sunday in Advent, Dec. 23. This will be our third presentation of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a wonderful addition to our Advent observance that has been enthusiastically received each year.

While the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is an Anglican Advent tradition that dates back to 1880, Organist and Choir Director Laurie Darke adds a decidedly St. Andrew’s flavor to the service with the involvement of our youth and children. Many of our youth will be reading the lessons, and our children will present a Nativity tableau, bringing alive the Christmas story. 

Edward White Benson, later to become the Archbishop of Canterbury, designed the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in 1880 for use on Christmas Eve in Cornwall, England. In 1918, King’s College in Cambridge, England began performing the Festival of Lessons and Carols each year, and in the United States, the Groton School in Massachusetts has been performing the festival annually since 1928.

Performances of the Nine Lessons and Carols have since become an Advent tradition throughout much of the Anglican Communion. The festival tells the story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus through nine short Bible readings from Genesis, the prophetic books and the Gospels, interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols and hymns.

A note to parents and grandparents about the program

We need to know by Sunday, Dec. 9, if your children or grandchildren are going to participate in this year’s presentation of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

Depending on the number of participants, toddlers through children in first or second grade will be our stable animals (sheep, donkeys and oxen); children in second or third to fifth or sixth grade will be angels and shepherds. The parts of the three wise men, Mary, Joseph and Gabriel usually go to middle school students. Scripture readings usually go to our high school youth and young adults, and Lori Cornett will also be organizing a strings ensemble, which is open to our youth and young adults. 

When you RSVP, please include your first and second choice for parts and we will try to accommodate the best we can. We’ll also provide details about simple costumes at that time. 

We will have a rehearsal on Saturday, Dec. 22, between 9 and 11 a.m., so please make sure you can attend the rehearsal if your child or grandchild plans to participate. We plan to stagger arrival times again this year for the rehearsal, from oldest to youngest, so our toddlers aren’t there so long. We will confirm arrival times with families once we have a final head count.

Please contact Tally Whitehead, twhitehead@standrewspolaris.org or 740-548-5112, ext. 5, if your child wishes to be involved, or for more information.