Lessons & Carols


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Program Notes

2018 marks 100 years since the introduction of The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College Chapel, London. Held each Christmas Eve, the Festival was introduced to bring a more imaginative approach to worship. It was first broadcast in 1928 and is now heard by millions of people around the world.

The service framework is open to many adaptations, with music sometimes provided solely by a choir and sometimes with congregational participation. However, the pattern and strength of the service always derive from the lessons. The readings express the development of the loving purposes of God seen through the windows and words of the Bible.

The carols we are singing today are gifts from composers representing four countries. Shout and Be Joyful, the first movement from the Bach Christmas Oratorio, is like an introit announcing exuberant joy. Bach wrote it for the boys’ choirs in Leipzig, Germany, duringthe early years of his lengthy tenure at St. Thomas Church (1723 until his death in 1750).

L'enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ), Opus 25, is an oratorio by French composer Hector Berlioz, based on the Holy Family's flight into Egypt (see Gospel of Matthew 2:13). Berlioz wrote his own words for this work, most of which he composed in 1853 and 1854.

We then turn to British contemporary composer John Rutter for a fabulous hymn arrangement of traditional favorite O Come, All Ye Faithful. Also from Rutter is a unique original work, Jesus Child, full of anticipation, and wonder.

Finally, we offer selections from two prolific American composers. Dan Forrest (b. 1978) has gained both critical renown and popularity among choirs for his densely constructed choral compositions. His setting of See Amid the Winter Snow, a 19th-century English carol, celebrates Christ’s birth in a serene, contemplative manner with quiet but fervent “hallelujahs.”

Hal Hopson (b. 1933) is a composer, conductor, and clinician with over 3,000 unpublished works comprising a full range of church music. His Thou Shalt Know Him sets to lush harmony an anonymous 15th-century text describing how Christ’s arrival will manifestwithin each of us.

We hope that the music of this 28-member orchestra along with our Chancel Choir will inspire your spiritual worship today as we celebrate Advent and continue to pray for the true coming of our Savior.

FPC Richmond