With what is considered their musical Christmas gift to the community, Second Presbyterian Church, 8th and Waller streets in Portsmouth, will present the traditional ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’ on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 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 sung by the Chancel Choir, will be led by Dr. Stanley Workman, Second Presbyterian Church Director of Music, with lay readers from the church’s congregation and members of the community.
“We have three new carols that will be presented. I always try to vary the selections from year to year, and to always add some new ones to keep the interest of our audience,” Workman said. “There will be many old favorites, with the similar format from times past.”
The Nine Lessons is still a highly anticipated event that attracts large crowds each year.
“We had a tremendous response last year, and we have been able to sustain support for it,” he said. “It really has become our musical Christmas gift to the community. There are a lot of people that tell me how they look forward to it, and how it centers their minds with all of the hustle and bustle, and gives them a sense of peace in the spirit of what the season is all about.”
The Chancel Choir will be accompanied by a full orchestra made up of regional orchestral musicians, as well as many local instrumentalists. Matt Bickett will serve as organist. Numbering more than 75 participants, the choir and orchestra will perform the carol settings of Barlow Bradford, Stephen Paulus, John Gardner, Stephen Paulus, John Rutter, Mack Wilberg and David Willcocks, all set against a magnificent backdrop of the church’s beautifully decorated sanctuary.
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; a freewill offering will be taken.
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.
“The Nine Lessons and Carols includes a lot of wonderful singers, and instrumentalists. We are really looking forward to this joyful presentation,” he said.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.