Monday, December 17, 2012

Lessons and Carols

Christmas Eve. Cambridge, England. King's College, 3pm. A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols.

Christmas Eve. Winfield, Illinois. King's home, 9am. The international live broadcast of "A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols" from King's Cambridge.

Our tradition is not nearly so hoary, and it is not unbroken, but this family has long enjoyed - with millions of others around the world - the worship and the wonder of this service. And it was a surprise to learn, back around 1999, that College Church in Wheaton had never "put on" a Service of Lessons and Carols. It seemed such a . . . well, such a College Church kind of service. And so it was a delight to introduce this into our series of Sunday evening December services. We ran it about a decade, and after a hiatus, the Chancel Choir revived it this year.

Without me.


And this brief run of posts is not offered as a contrarian plan to that evening. Far from it. It is just my vision for "A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols," for 2012, if I had been in a position to plan such a service, and a choir to work with. If I manage it, the series of posts will end on Christmas morning, with the Ninth Lesson, and the final carol(s).

I'm thinking of it this morning because my daily Advent reading, from Walter Wangerin's Preparing for Jesus, included a poem, the setting of which I had planned to use in this season at College Church, had I stayed put long enough. That poem, paired with another, will be featured later in their proper place. For now, to whet your appetite and to encourage you to find the December 24 live broadcast (or live-stream) and carve out 90 minutes of that day to enjoy it, I give you:

A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols
from King's Study, Winfield

Prelude: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Introit/Processional: Once in Royal David's City 


Bidding Prayer 
Jesus, God of all our hopes,
We thank you for being our Wonderful Counselor - we need you to show us the way;
our Mighty God - we need you to protect us from all evil;
our Everlasting Father - we need the comfort of being in your family;
our Prince of Peace - we need your peace in a troubled world.

Give us grace that we may seek the way, the truth, and the life.
Without you, we would wander off course - broad is the way that leads to destruction.
Without you, we would embrace error and walk in darkness.
Without you, we would remain in our sins and never know eternal life.
We praise you, that you have come so that we might have life and have it abundantly.
Just as you sent your messengers, the prophets, to prepare the way of salvation, may we prepare the traditions that nurture our spiritual lives and celebrate the dawning of your everlasting Kingdom.
Heaven and earth await that great event.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
taken from Wendell Hawley, A Pastor Prays for His People (Tyndale, 2010) 
Wendell is a friend, pastor, and colleague from College Church.

First Lesson: Genesis 3:8-15
"Lessons" are Bible readings, and they are the centerpiece, the focus, the main event of the service. The music hangs on the readings. So, seriously, I encourage you to read before or as you listen. Before for maximum effect, during for the sake of time! I am providing a link to each reading.

First Carol:  Adam Lay Ybounden
At the birthplace of this service, King's College Chapel, the "carols" are the items sung by the choir, while the congregation sings "hymns." 

A Lessons and Carols that included a Carol and a Hymn for each Lesson could become quite long. But not longer, I think, than 90 minutes, which is the time you'll want to set aside for the Decembver 24 broadcast. But one day at a time, I think we'll keep this pattern. Today's hymn I could not find recorded. Too bad. I think it has a haunting tune, and I love to hear the College Church congregation sing it.


Jim Lowery said...

What a wonderful idea! I look -and listen- forward to the next seven days.

I was wondering how you would make it through these Days! (Smile)

Jim Lowery

Claudia Gerwin said...

thank you, Chuck, for ending my day today with the gift of L&C. Just finished my last Elizabethan concert for a senior citizen's group in Lombard, and am content to sit and listen to this beautiful heart music, and read the Word.