As one of Seattle Pacific University’s annual Christmas traditions, the Music Department hosted the Festival of Lessons and Carols at First Free Methodist Church on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
The festival is an Advent celebration that retells the stories of the fall of man, the promise of the Savior and the birth of Christ through short Bible readings, Christmas carols, hymns and prayer.
“We have been doing the service for nearly 25 years,” said Senior Admissions Counselor and Fine and Performing Arts Marketing Associate Kim Gilnett in an email. “The service is significant to our community because it begins with Old Testament prophecy and leads us to the Incarnation. It also reminds us of our liturgical past.”
As noted by Gilnett, the service is modeled after the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, an annual Christmas Eve service that takes place at King’s College Cambridge.
The creation of Festival was originally influenced by “… the English tradition dating back to 1878 in Truro Cathedral in Cornwall, England,” said Gilnett, over email.
The event was originally held on Christmas Eve of 1918. The service has been broadcasted nearly every year since 1928. King’s College Cambridge estimates that millions of people worldwide listen to the service annually.
At SPU’s Festival, attendees were led in worship by faculty and staff readers from various departments around SPU, including Music, Theatre and other divisions within the College of Arts and Sciences.
Many of the previous Festival of Lessons and Carols services have also featured performances from the SPU choirs; however, due to Tuesday night’s Sacred Sounds of Christmas concert at McCaw Hall, the choir was unavailable for the service.
The Festival of Lessons and Carols began with an introduction from Gilnett and was followed by the Bidding Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer.
The service was split into nine sections, representing the Bible lessons that would be discussed.
Professor of Music Education Ramona Holmes began with the first lesson, which described the fall of Eden, and later read from Genesis.
After her reading, the congregation was led in worship and began singing the traditional carol “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”
The following lessons followed a similar format, as a professor would read a passage from Scripture, and the congregation would then be led in traditional hymns or carols. The lessons featured in the service focused on God’s promises to Abraham, the foretelling of the coming of the Savior, the birth of Jesus and the Incarnation.
The program concluded with The Collect, a structured, short prayer used in Christian liturgy and a recessional featuring “Joy to the World.”
“This is an advent worship service,” said SPU Chaplain Bo Lim, in an email. “It also [allows] our community to benefit from an important tradition in the church.”