Westminster to celebrate the 38th annual Festival of Lessons and Songs

Westminster College in Fulton will celebrate the 38th annual Festival of Lessons and Songs via a live stream at 5pm on Sunday from St Mary the Virgin Church in Aldermanbury.

The live stream will be available on the Westminster Facebook and YouTube pages, the Westminster Live Stream page, and the US National Churchill Museum Facebook and YouTube pages.

The beloved and time-honored Lessons and Carols of Westminster event is inspired by the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College, University of Cambridge, England.

The service includes the reading of nine Bible scriptures that relate to the Christmas story. Each reading is followed by a thoughtful song.

Like the annual Cambridge service, the Westminster service begins with the “Once in Royal David’s City” procession and features a student singing the first verse of the song a cappella from the church balcony.

“It’s a time both solemn and hopeful, and for many in our community I think it marks the start of Christmas,” said Associate Professor of Music Dr Natasia Sexton, who leads the Churchill Singers. .

A ten-year tradition in Westminster is the singing of “Joy to the World” after the ninth reading.

“This particular arrangement is marked by beautiful organ accompaniment, and to hear it in this space on our Mander organ played by Gretchen is unparalleled,” Sexton said of Jefferson organist and church musician Gretchen Huedepohl. City, which has accompanied the Churchill Singers since 2009.

In addition to the Churchill Singers, the service will also feature vocals performed by Caleb Alexander, guitarist and guest fine arts instructor; Ken Kehner, jazz pianist and piano teacher; as well as former Audrey Sharp, ’13; Kelsie Slaughter, ’20 and Jack DeArmey, ’20.

The annual event traditionally takes place in Westminster on the second Sunday of Advent.

Reverend Kiva Nice-Webb, chaplain and director of the Center for Faith and Service in Westminster, says Advent is a season of waiting, and many at the college look forward to this particular performance each year. Last year, event sponsors were forced to pre-record and share the concert online after the holidays due to COVID-19 concerns.

“This year we will kick off the Advent season with a mix of live and pre-recorded selections,” Nice-Webb said.

She said live streaming allows a wider audience to enjoy the event, balancing safety and festivity.

“The loss of marking time in the traditional way has been difficult for many people during the pandemic, and we are thrilled to once again offer lessons and singing with the Churchill Singers at St. Mary’s,” Nice-Webb said. .

The Festival of Lessons and Carols is co-sponsored by Westminster’s Center for Faith and Service, the College’s Department of Fine Arts and the US National Churchill Museum.

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