Voices fill churches for Lessons and Carols performances

By Kevin Shannahan


Natchitoches’ Trinity Episcopal Church hosted its annual Lessons and Carols Dec. 15. A choir consisting of NSU students, alumni, Trinity congregation members and guests from other churches filled the church with a variety of sacred music in between Bible readings. Rev. Suzanne Wolfenbarger led the service while Dr. Greg Handel conducted the choir.

The night’s service “The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” was first presented at the Chapel of King’s College shortly after the end of the First World War in 1918. The service has been broadcast each year since 1928 by the British Broadcasting Corporation. During the Second World War, there was no heat in the church and the stained glass windows had been removed to protect them from Nazi bombs. The service continued nonetheless, an example of “the long continuity of our institutions” that Sir Winston Churchill spoke of in 1940.

Lessons and Carols, an annual tradition at the Minor Basilica of the Immacuate Conception since 1991, was held Dec. 6. The prayer service is, in the words of Pastoral Administrator Fr. Blake Deshautelle, “ an annual reflection in preparation for Christmas.”

The candlelit service consists of a series of readings interspaced with hymns and carols. Northwestern State University’s Chamber Choir leant its 40 superb voices under the direction of Dr. Nicholaus Cummins to the service for a truly uplifting, prayerful and beautiful experience.