Lessons and Carols, Dec. 28, 2014

Title:Lessons and Carols, Dec. 28, 2014

  Sunday, December 28, 2014  (full size gallery)

"Lessons and Carols’ takes up one of two Sundays in Christmas. We know the service,  first held after World War I in 1918,  and was planned by Eric Milner-White, who at the age of thirty-four had just been appointed Dean of King’s College. His experience as an army chaplain had convinced him that the Church of England needed more imaginative worship.

He actually reached back to an earlier time for a service structure. 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 pm on Christmas Eve 1880. AC Benson recalled: ‘My father arranged from ancient sources a little service for Christmas Eve – 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.’

The readings can vary as can the music. Traditionally, "Once in Royal David City" is the opening passages. Beyond that the service is flexible.  This year  the 9 readings offer a sweep of the Old and New Testaments with the following stories – Creation of the earth (Nancy), the banishment from the garden (Roger), the exile to Babylon (Alex), Story of Elizabeth and Zechariah (Mike), Annunciation to Mary (Andrea), Birth of John the Baptism (Marilyn), Birth of Jesus (Eunice), Simeon in the Temple (Bill), John’s Prologue (Ben).

The opening prayer probably gets to the heart of why it is popular. Indeed the popularity of the service derives more from the words than music. It is a sweeping narrative that  provides the foundation and importance of Christ going back to Genesis. An opening prayer that is used provides a focus:

"We gather here to recall the mystery of our redemption. 
Though sin drew us away from God, he never stopped loving us.
The prophets told of the coming of a Messiah
who would initiate a reign of justice and peace.
This promise was fulfilled in the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Let us now reflect with joy on this wondrous mystery."

The bulletin is here with the scriptures and the hymns.  The 9 readings are here.  We had 28 at the service. We welcomed Ken’s family from Montana – Ken’s sister, niece and fathers’ friend.  

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