The Festival of Lessons and Carols is a liturgical service patterned after the Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours. It looks at the sweep of the Biblical History, of God interacting with his people: it encompasses nine lessons from the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, proclamations of the announcement of the Messiah through to his birth. It always opens with the hymn Once in Royal David’s City. The Festival was developed by the Choirmaster of King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, UK and first sung in 1918. Since its inception, it’s been broadcast around the world. Here at St. Monica, we revived the tradition in the early 2000s and it is a yearly treat, which in previous years included our tree lighting on the Grand Pavilion Patio.
In the Anglican tradition, customarily it’s a liturgical concert patterned after the ancient monastic practice of Christmas Matins - this was an extended, early morning vigil with readings from the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to the proclamation of the Birth of Christ. The pattern of the Office of Readings closely parallels the Easter Vigil. It includes an introductory hymn, then the scripture readings, each followed by a hymn or responsory, and a final prayer.
Properly sung on Christmas Eve, at St. Monica we offer it in the middle of Advent, so it can be savored for the rest of this expectant Season.
This year, Festival of Lessons and Carols will be virtual, under the artistic and technical direction of Jeffrey Bonilla, Director of Music. Our showcase will include many of our musicians from the St. Monica Livestream Masses, and will be a musically and visually stunning Christmas treat!
You won't want to miss this unique opportunity to share in a long-held Advent Season tradition, singing along from the comfort of your home!