Central Missourians are invited to join the Westminster College community for its annual free public Festival of Lessons and Carols holiday service at 5 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 10, in The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury on the Westminster College campus.
Doors will open for seating at 4:30 p.m. and a reception will be held following the service in the undercroft of the Church.
Lessons and Carols is a community worship service that seeks to celebrate the birth of Jesus through scripture and song.
“As we know all too well, it is so easy to be swept up in the stress and chaotic nature of the holiday season,” says Rev. Jamie Haskins, College Chaplain and Director of the Center for Faith and Service at Westminster. “Our hope is that people will join us for Lessons and Carols and find this time as an opportunity for worshipful meditation and quiet remembrance of the sacredness that grounds us all.”
Patterned after the festival held at Cambridge University in England, the service includes prayers and the reading of nine scriptures pertaining to the Christmas story by members of the Westminster community as well as members of the Fulton community and carols sung and performed by the Westminster College choir and student soloists.
Readers for the service include Bomani Spell, Vice President and Dean of Student Life; Lusitania Savio Dos Reis Fernandes, a senior from Dili, East Timor; Isaac Coronel, a senior from Cashion, Arizona; Stefanie Eggleston, a senior from Osborn, Missouri; Dr. Gary Shultz, Senior Pastor of Fulton First Baptist Church; Kaitlin Rosholm, a senior from Mesa, Arizona; Sawyer Young, a senior from Fulton, Missouri; Thomas Mallon, a senior from Mesa, Arizona; and Westminster President Dr. Fletcher Lamkin.
Prayers will be offered by Rev. Helen Logan, Chaplain at the Fulton State Hospital; and Kiva Nice-Webb, Chaplain Resident and Coordinator of the Office of Community Engagement. A welcome will be offered by Rev. Haskins and Student Government Association President Lydia Creech, a senior from Republic, Missouri. The Charge and Benediction will be delivered by Rev. Haskins.
Music for the service will be provided by the Churchill Singers and several soloists, including juniors Destiney Speech from Florissant, Missouri, and Jamie Lemon from Columbia, Missouri, on the beautiful carol “Mary, Do You Know?” The singers will be accompanied by Gretchen Huedepohl, who will also play an organ prelude and postlude. Director of the Churchill Singers is Dr. Natasia Sexton, Associate Professor of Music, Coordinator of Fine Arts and Director of Choirs. Before the event, Christmas selections will be performed by harpist Melissa Purvis.
The Churchill Singers will begin the service with the processional “Once in Royal David’s City,” the carol that traditionally opens the original Lessons and Carols service at King’s College, Cambridge, a service which dates back to Christmas Eve, 1918.
A Westminster tradition established over the last few years is the beginning carol, “O Come All Ye Faithful,” sung by the choir and congregation with the accompaniment of the 38-rank tracker Mander pipe organ.
“This is always a very moving experience because all the voices and the organ resound throughout that beautiful, open space,” says Dr. Natasia Sexton. “For me, this moment signals the beginning of the Christmas season.”
The service will close with arrangements of “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night, Holy Night” on the Mander organ in the church balcony.
A reception will follow the service in the National Churchill Museum.
The event is being hosted by the Center for Faith and Service.
For additional information, interested parties can contact Rev. Jamie Haskins at 573-592-5262.