Lessons and Carols for Advent and Christmas
Sunday, December 11, 2011, 4 and 7 p.m.
40th Anniversary Celebration!
Lessons and Carols for Advent and Christmas has been a special Addison County tradition for 40 years. It is celebrated in historic Mead Chapel. People come from all over the county and state to participate in this joyous community event, filling the chapel for both the 4 and 7 p.m. services. It offers an opportunity for the entire community to sing traditional Christmas music, enjoy the beautiful voices of the College Choir and remember the original meaning of the holiday season.
There is no admission fee, but each year donations are collected for HOPE, Elderly Services, and Addison County Home Health and Hospice.
This year, the Lessons and Carols service will be held on Sunday, December 11. Scriptural readings — or lessons — are read by students, staff, and faculty. Interspersed between the lessons, Advent and Christmas music is performed by the College Choir, under the direction of Jeff Buettner, or sung by the congregation. Organist and Professor of Music Emeritus Emory Fanning provides the accompaniment as well as music before and after the service. The carillon atop the chapel welcomes people with the sound of bells ringing down the hillside. Chaplain Laurie Jordan leads the service.
Special guest performers for this anniversary service include Dan Marcy, a member of the College’s voice faculty, the Snowflake Brass Quartet, and a violin quartet.
The service is based on the Advent Service of Nine Lessons and Carols that has been celebrated every year at King’s College, Cambridge, England since 1918, which is broadcast to millions worldwide on Christmas morning through BBC World Service Radio. It was originally planned by Eric Milner-White, the Dean of King’s College Chapel. He had been a World War I British army chaplain, and became a liturgical pioneer who was convinced that the Church of England needed more imaginative worship. Though the music changes each year, the backbone of the service — the prayers and lessons — has remained virtually unchanged since those days.
The first Middlebury service took place in 1971, under the direction of Emory Fanning and Chaplain Charles P. Scott. They were convinced that the college’s music department was up to the challenge and that the community would welcome this colorful and moving celebration. One of the readers that first year was a Middlebury College senior named James H. Douglas (later Vermont governor), who read the Nativity lesson from the second chapter of Luke. Jim will read again on this 40th anniversary.
Middlebury’s Lessons and Carols was made famous by two public television specials. Christmas in Vermont: A Celebration of Lessons and Carols was filmed in 1984. And in 1988, A Vermont Christmas, narrated by actor Burgess Meredith and filmed on location in Middlebury and on the College’s Bread Loaf campus, was produced by Vermont Public Television. Each production was rebroadcast, over several years, by more than 200 public television stations nationally.
Please call the Chaplain’s Office at ext. 5626 with any questions.