Christmas came early this year for everyone who attended Trinity Episcopal Church’s Service of Lessons and Carols last Sunday evening. With the church decorated in green and gold for the Christmas season, Trinity’s choir and handbells presented a worship service that brought the story of Christmas closer to everyone’s heart.
The Service of Lessons and Carols is a tradition that originated in the Anglican church as early as 1880, but the service as we know it today was created by the dean of King’s College in Cambridge, England, in 1918, and has been celebrated there every year since. The order of service includes nine Bible lessons that reach from the fall of Adam to the birth and adoration of Jesus. Following each lesson, a musical presentation by the 15-member choir, the handbell choir, or a soloist enhanced the meaning of the lesson. The congregation also participated in singing several hymns, including “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Silent Night.”
“The choir decided in November that this would be a wonderful way to bring Christmas to the congregation and to the community,” said Christopher Bechtler, Director of Music at Trinity Episcopal. “Since I was familiar with this service, I was pleased to plan the music and prepare the choir.” Bechtler accepted the position of Music Director at Trinity Episcopal last fall, and has since built a strong adult choir. He also teaches choral music and music education at Georgia Southern University.
Trinity’s organist, Lynn Wright, played for the choir during rehearsals and performance, congregation member Shirley Helmly directed the handbell choir, and Robert Cottle, a member of Trinity’s choir, played the piano for “The Advent Candle.” Soloists for the evening included Wright’s granddaughters, Ellie Jane, aged 7, and Lucy, aged 6. Their solo, from “Once in Royal David’s City,” opened the service. Later in the service, Jennifer Nunn, a member of Trinity’s choir, sang “Sweet Little Jesus Boy.”
“We were pleased to share this service with the Statesboro community,” said The Rev. Joan Kilian, Trinity Episcopal’s rector. “The Service of Lessons and Carols is one that puts hope and joy in everyone’s heart.”