Lessons and Carols Services Weave Together Scripture and Song | Nashville Public Radio

Lessons and Carols Services Weave Together Scripture and Song

Nov 29, 2018

One Christmas tradition found in various churches all over Music City has its roots in 19th Century England.

In 1878 the Royal Cornwall Gazette reported that choir members would be ceasing the tradition of traveling through town to sing at parishioners' homes, and instead would sing a number of carols in the Cathedral on Christmas Eve.

Two years later, the future Archbishop of Cantebury, Edward White Benson, formalized a liturgy of nine lessons (biblical readings) to accompany the carols. It was first performed at King's College, Cambridge in 1918 - an effort to comfort a student body who had lost so many of its number to World War I. The broadcast, which started in 1928, continued through World War II with the church windows removed for safety.

It has now been adapted by multiple denominations and churches around the world. Over 30 million people still tune in for the broadcast of Carols at Kings. Opening with a song from a book called Hymns for Little Children by Miss Cecil Humpreys - Once in Royal David's City, and including a set of well-known hymns of the season, and a progression of choral music from darkness to light.

You can partake in this Christmas tradition every weekend of Advent in Nashville.

Saint George's Episcopal Church

  • A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols
  • Dec. 2, 6 p.m.
  • website

West End United Methodist Church

  • Annual Candlelighting Service
  • Dec. 9, 5:30 p.m.
  • website

Belmont United Methodist Church

  • Feast of Lights and Carol Service
  • Dec. 9, 6 p.m.
  • website

Saint Andrew Lutheran Church

  • Service of Lessons and Carols Based on the O Antiphons
  • Dec. 16, 8:30 and 11 a.m.
  • website

Christ Church Cathedral

  • Annual Festival of Lessons and Carols
  • Dec. 16, 4 p.m.
  • website

First Presbyterian Church Springfield

  • Lessons and Carols
  • Dec. 16, 4 p.m.
  • website

First Baptist Church

  • Carol-Candlelight Celebration
  • Dec. 16, 5 p.m.
  • website

Saint Paul's Episcopal Church

  • A Festival of Lessons and Carols
  • Dec. 23, 4 p.m.
  • website

The music in this story is from King's College, Cambridge. As always, you can hear the live broadcast of Carols at Kings on Dec. 24 at 9 a.m., here on 91Classical (91.1 FM).