This Sunday, St. Simon Peter Episcopal Church in Pell City hosts its tradition of holding the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, and extends an invitation to all to attend and be part of the service.
The service begins at 4 p.m. in the main sanctuary.
The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a service of Christian worship structured to celebrate the birth of Jesus, a tradition of the Christian faith.
The Biblical readings included in the service include the story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the messiah and the birth of Jesus, which are told in nine short readings from the Bible’s book of Genesis, the prophetic books and the Gospels.
The readings are given in-between the singing of carols, hymns and choir music.
“What would Christmas be without Lessons and Carols at St. Simon-Peter,” said Kenny Lewis, who serves as organist and choirmaster for the church. “This is my seventh Lessons and Carols Service with this group, and I believe that we are better than ever.”
The traditional Service of Lessons and Carols has grown exponentially at St. Simon Peter, Lewis said.
“We have now arrived to a point to where we have several choir members from other surrounding churches who join us for this service,” he said.
The musical selections for this year try to incorporate not only popular and our most popular Christmas anthems, but some of the forgotten ones as well, Lewis said.
Lewis said one of his favorite quotes is, "Bach gave us God's word, Mozart gave us God's laughter, and Beethoven gave us God's fire.”
God gave us music that we might pray without words, Lewis said.
“All three of these are the most prominent figures in the history of music composition and all though this year, we aren't featuring any of their works, it is the last of line of quote that really captures what we are trying to do,” Lewis said. “After all, the service is not about standing in line freezing somewhere trying to find that the perfect Christmas gift. Instead, it is about coming together and really remembering what the season is about and how it all originated.”
So, yes, music is a prayer, and it is something that each person can make their own, Lewis said. “For what could be a better gift than all of us coming together and raising our voices in prayer to honor God during this season of miracles.”
Music selected for this year’s service includes “Gesu Bambino,” “A Child is Born in Bethlehem,” “Still, Still, Still,”
“Behold a Star from Jacob Shining,” “Gabriel's Message,”
“What Cheer, Good Cheer,” and “Joys Seven.”
Children in the church will sing “The Little Drummer Boy.”
Hymns chosen for the service include “Once in Royal David’s City,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “The First Noel,” “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”
The history of the Service of Lessons and Carols began many years ago when Archbishop Edward Benson, while at Truro Cathedral in England, began the service based on the medieval vigil service. It was later modified by the Very Reverend E. M. Milner-White, who was at that time Dean of King's College Chapel in Cambridge, England.
Since then, it has been performed each year in King's College Chapel on Christmas Eve.
Traditionally, the lessons are read in a defined order with a chorister first, followed by members of the comrnunity holding various positions in the service and ending with the rector or bishop.
The service may take place on Christmas Eve or anytime during the l2 days of Christmas.