December 11: LESSONS AND CAROLS

Mark your calendars (and invite your friends!): You won’t want to miss St. Luke’s at Immaculate Conception’s always impressive service of Lessons and Carols for Advent, one of the most beautiful evenings of the year, which will be held Sunday, December 11, at 7:30 pm. at Immaculate Conception. St. Luke’s is justly renowned for our music, and this is always an excellent opportunity, for parishioners and friends, alike to enjoy a splendid choir in top form! There will be a reception immediately following the ceremony next door in the school.

Although Lessons and Carols, a worship service which celebrates the birth of Christ with readings from Genesis, prophetic writings in the Bible, and the Gospels, interspersed with Advent music, has become a popular tradition in many denominations, it is a ceremony that ought to have a special place in the hearts of Ordinariate Catholics. Its roots are in the Church of England, and specifically related to a family that included one of the great Anglican converts to the Catholic Church. It seems that one of the earliest mentions of such a service was an 1878 newspaper announcement that there would be a Christmas Eve service of carols at Truro Cathedral. A number of churches and larger towns seem to have been hosting similar services, but Truro Cathedral is important because the bishop of Truro was the Rt. Rev. Edward Benson. When Benson became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1883, he took Lessons and Carols with him, introducing it to a wider public. Ordinariate Catholics remember that one of Bishop Benson’s sons was Robert Hugh Benson, also an Anglican clergyman before he began investigating the historical claims of the Anglican Church. Robert Hugh Benson was subsequently received into the Catholic Church. Monsignor Benson, as he became, was named a supernumerary private chamberlain (chaplain) to the Pope in 1911. A prolific author, Benson wrote the novel Come Rack! Come Rope!, about a Saint Edmund Campion-like priest put to death for his faith in Elizabethan England. If Bishop Benson introduced the ceremony of Lessons and Carols to a larger number of people, it gained further prominence in 1928 when King’s College, Cambridge, hosted its first such service under the direction of Eric Milner-White, then Dean of King’s College. In 1934, Milner-White devised the cycle for Advent Lessons and Carols, which is the service which we offer each year on Gaudete Sunday.

Our Lessons and Carols is always impressive, solemn, and joyful. This year the music will feature selections from Palestrina, Mendelssohn, James MacMillan, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, Charles Wood, and Herbert Howells. Parishioners are asked to bring food for the reception.

If you wish to support our music ministry by donating to offset the cost of this service, click here for a sponsorship form.