Second Presbyterian Church, 8th and Waller Streets in Portsmouth, will bring the glory of the Christmas season to the community with the presentation of the “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” on Monday, Dec. 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the church sanctuary.
The traditional service, which alternates readings from the Holy Scriptures with carols and anthems of the season, will be led by the Rev. Allison Bauer, Pastor, and the Chancel Choir, with lay readers from the local pastoral community.
The Chancel Choir will be accompanied by a full orchestra made up of regional orchestral musicians, as well as many local instrumentalists and Matt Bickett, organist. Numbering more than 80 participants, the choir and orchestra will be under the direction of Dr. Stanley Workman, Jr., Second Presbyterian Church Director of Music.
Workman said they are looking for the Nine Lessons in Carols with great anticipation.
“We are certainly looking forward to this event. It offers a short time when people can drop their busy activities, come into this sacred space, hear and participate in the beautiful music, and meditate on true meaning of Christmas as shown to us in God’s word,” Workman said. ” I have had many people tell me that this is the beginning of their Christmas season, and the event that really puts them in the true spirit of the season. One of the carols presented is “What Sweeter Music” which says: What sweeter music can we bring than carol for to sing the birth of this our heavenly King? What greater gift could we ever expect to receive than this news?
The event will also feature three new carol arrangements will be featured among the 17 carol anthems: “Noe, Noe,” based on an old French carol by Mack Wilberg, director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; “Wexford Carol” by Barlow Bradford, director of the Utah Chamber Artists, and “Rejoice, and Be Merry” by well-known composer, John Rutter. The famous “Greensleeves” in an orchestral setting by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and the popular carol settings of David Willcocks, sung by choir and congregation, will round out the program.
Workman said the public is cordially invited to the traditional sacred service, based upon the original yearly presentation from King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England, which brings the message of Christmas through scripture illuminated by seasonal music. Everyone is welcome to attend, and a freewill offering will be taken to ensure the continuation of future musical events like this one.
The now traditional service was first held on Christmas Eve, 1918, at King’s College Chapel. Almost immediately other churches adapted the service for their own use. A wider audience began to grow when the service was first broadcast in 1928. With the exception of 1930, it has been broadcast annually, even during World War II. It is estimated that there are millions of listeners worldwide, according to Workman.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-464-3862, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.