The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols Performed at Trinity Episcopal Church

Natchitoches’ Trinity Episcopal Church continued a beloved community tradition of over 25 years with its annual Lessons and Carols Thursday, Dec. 12. A group of superb brass players were joined by a choir consisting of NSU students, alumni, and Trinity congregation members who filled the church with a variety of sacred music in between Bible readings. The Reverend Suzanne Wolfenbarger led the service while Dr. Kristine Coreil conducted the choir.

The night’s service “The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” was first presented at Cambridge University’s Chapel of King’s College shortly after the end of the First World War in 1918. The service has been broadcasted 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, as well as an affirmation of faith in the ultimate victory over Hitler. While many variations of the service have been performed over the years since the end of the First World War, the essential message of the service remains unchanged.

The service’s roots in the aftermath of World War I can be seen in this famous passage from the original Bidding Prayer that opens the service: “Let us remember before God and all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Words made flesh, and with whom we for evermore are one.” Lessons and Carols is a truly wonderful part of the Christmas season.

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