St. Matthew's presents lessons and carols

St. Matthew’s presents lessons and carols

Published 9:47am Thursday, December 1, 2016

St. Matthew's Episcopal Church will present "Service of Nine Lessons and Carols" on Dec. 11. CONTRIBUTED
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church will present “Service of Nine Lessons and Carols” on Dec. 11. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – A centuries-old tradition will live with contemporary meaning when St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church presents its annual “Service of Nine Lessons and Carols.”

The event on Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. will feature St. Matthew’s choir in Bible readings and traditional and not-so-traditional carols that will uplift and focus on the Advent and Christmas season, Rev. James Pappas said. Pappas is serving as Interim Rector at St. Matthew’s.

The Service of Lessons and Carols was first developed at Truro Cathedral in England in 1880. Church leaders attempted to include individuals who knew the general Christmas story but were otherwise ‘unchurched’ in the Christmas festivities of the Church of England, Pappas said.

The service “was adopted as an annual Christmas observance at the chapel of Kings College, Cambridge in 1918. The service came across the Atlantic into the Episcopal Church in 1928 and has since become a customary observance at schools and parishes throughout the United States,” he said.

St. Matthew’s has presented this observance since 2006.

At St. Matthew’s, the order of worship follows the service practiced at Kings College. “This event is patterned after the Christmas Eve service held at King’s College Chapel England,” he said.

“The service consists of a bidding prayer, nine lessons from both the Old and New Testament of the Bible. The lessons trace salvation history from the Fall, through the promises of God to save God’s people, into the fulfillment of those promises in the birth of Jesus Christ. (The service) concludes with a final prayer and blessing,” Pappas said.

Congregational hymns and various carols by the choir are interspersed between and around these prayers and readings. “The prayers and lessons remain constant from year to year,” Pappas said. “The music changes and is selected annually by Tom Killian, our director of music.”

For more information, call 256-864-0788, email or visit

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