Christmas story to be told in song and Scripture

Lessons and carols is scheduled to be told at the Rogers Center for the Arts Tuesday, December 8, at 7 p.m.

Merrimack College Schola’s scheduled rendition Tuesday of the third annual Festival of Lessons and Carols follows a tradition dating to at least 1878 of retelling the Christmas story in words and music.

Lessons and carols includes nine short Scriptural passage readings with each reading followed by Christmas music.

“What I love about it is how it situates these Christmas carols we all know well, and it really reminds us of their part in the Christmas story,” said Campus Music Activities Coordinator Hugh Hinton. “It’s really a beautiful way to celebrate the Advent and Christmas season.”

It’s a joyous occasion that helps immerse the listeners and the schola in the Christmas spirit, Hinton said.

“It is not a performance, that is something I always stress to the people in the scola, it’s not a concert performance,” Hinton said. “It’s a sharing and a prayer and I truly hope that heartfelt quality will come through.”

Listeners are invited to join in singing traditional Christmas songs such as “Come All Ye Faithful” and “Joy to the World.”

“Those are things we invite everybody to join in and will have programs,” Hinton said. “We will intersperse that with Christmas advent music, there will be less familiar seasonal music we think is very beautiful.”

Lessons and carols are traditionally sung Christmas eve but since Merrimack College will be closed for the holidays the rendition is moved up on the calendar.

It’s called the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols by Protestants. Among the earliest written references to it is an 1878 performance at the Truro Cathedral in England.

One of the most famous performances of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast from King’s College in Cambridge, England on Christmas Eve.

Schola is a group of singers and musicians who sing liturgical music at Masses.

“Part of what we do here is train the singers and certainly try to assist in their formation musically,” Hinton said.