Experience season of expectation at Trinity Lessons and Carols

Published 12:10 am Friday, December 6, 2019

There is something special happening at Trinity Episcopal Church on Sunday, December 8, at 5:30 p.m., that I encourage the citizens of Natchez to come and experience.

The Christian Year begins anew with the Season of Advent, a season of expectation and spiritual preparation for the festival of Christmas.

During this season, all over the world, including Natchez, a service is held known as “Advent Lessons and Carols”.  This service is distinctly Anglican in origin, having been created and used to this day at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England.  The service was designed in 1934 by the dean of the chapel, The Rev. Eric Milner-White, who also created the famous “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” sixteen years earlier.

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Father White’s concern for imaginative forms of worship that would express the true meaning of major events in the Christian year is what led him to this important work.  In contrast to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, which celebrates Christmas, the Advent service is not intended to celebrate Christmas, but to expect it.

The visitor to this service will enter historic Trinity Church and find it beautifully adorned with candles and globes in the windows and chandeliers dimmed to create an atmosphere of mystery and reverence.  The service begins with a reflective organ voluntary, then the choir sings the ancient responsory from the Office of Matins, “I look from afar”, followed by the hymn “Come thou redeemer of the earth” as they move from West to East, symbolizing the passing of God’s people from darkness to light through the Redemption provided by Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The service then proceeds with a Bidding Prayer then lessons and choral responses, both old and new.  At various points throughout the service, the congregation takes part in the singing of hymns, accompanied by the magnificent pipe organ at Trinity.

We are blest in Natchez to have the opportunity to experience a fine choir, trained in the English Cathedral tradition, in a beautiful and historic setting such as Trinity Church.  In a world filled with emphasis on “immediate gratification”, it is a joy and an honor to be a part of a group of people that come together, week after week, to do the work of preparing the great music of the Church- a time consuming and exacting work- in the manner in which it has been prepared and performed by dedicated choristers throughout the world for centuries.

I would like to extend a personal invitation to come join us this Sunday at 5:30 p.m. and experience this beautiful act of worship.  Before the ‘Christmas rush’ gets under way; before the lines get too long; before the house fills with guests, come and take a moment away— a moment of rest and reflection — to prepare your heart anew to celebrate the glorious Birth of Christ.

Christy Williams is a member of the Trinity Episcopal Church choir.