Advent Lessons and Carols

This year's Service of Advent Lessons and Carols will be part of the 11:15 a.m. liturgy on the Second Sunday of Advent, December 5th. Like previous years, this service will include the readings from the Old and New Testaments that illuminate the proclamation of Christ's birth and set the tone of the short, but busy season of Advent, and the joyous season of Christmas. Our liturgy on December 5th will comprise of two parts: The Word of God (Lessons and Carols) and Holy Communion. Two new anthems will be heard: a setting of Come, thou long expected Jesus by Indianapolis-based composer and acclaimed countertenor, Steven Rickards; and a lush setting of the Ave Maria by Franz Biebl, a work that has been championed by many years by the San Francisco choral ensemble, Chanticleer.

Our Christmas Eve services at 8 and 11 p.m. will be preceded by a Choral Prelude of Christmas hymns and anthems sung by the choir and congregation beginning at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. While the origins of the Lessons and Carols service (both Advent and Christmas) began as a way of preparing the faithful for the Christmas Mass, our Christmas Eve liturgies will begin in a similar, yet modified way. Beginning with Hymn 102 "Once in royal David's city," this hymn was written for Cecil Frances Alexander's Hymns for Little Children in 1848. This was intended to be a commentary on the third article of the Apostles' Creed, "who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary." This text first appeared in the United States in 1865 when it was published in Cantica Sacra, a collection of hymns for the Catholic Church. This hymn remained relatively unknown until the 1950s when the recordings of the choir of King's College, Cambridge became available. It is now one of the most recognized tunes of the Christmas season. Our Christmas Eve Choral Prelude will be augmented by a string ensemble that will accompany the choir and also enhance the 8 and 11 p.m. liturgies.