Lessons and Carols for Advent and Christmas Celebrates 40th Anniversary at Middlebury
December 8, 2011
Service Will Ring in the Holidays at Mead Chapel on December 11
Middlebury, VT—Middlebury College presents the 40th anniversary service of Lessons and Carols for Advent and Christmas on Sunday, December 11, 2011, at 4:00 and 7:00 P.M. in Mead Memorial Chapel. This annual program includes Bible readings of Advent and Christmas and carols for choir, organ, and congregation, modeled after the long-standing British tradition.
Scriptural readings—or lessons— are read by Middlebury College students, staff, and faculty. Interspersed between the lessons, Advent and Christmas music is performed by the Middlebury College Chapel Choir, under the direction of Jeff Buettner, or sung by the congregation. College 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. Middlebury College Chaplain Laurie Jordan leads the service.
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, and 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. Douglas will return this year as a reader for the 40th anniversary services.
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, Vermont Public Television produced A Vermont Christmas, narrated by actor Burgess Meredith and filmed on location in Middlebury and on the College’s Bread Loaf campus. Each production was rebroadcast, over several years, by over 200 public television stations nationally.
Both services of Lessons and Carols for Advent and Christmas are free and open to the public, but each year, generous donations are collected for HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects), Elderly Services, and Addison County Home Health and Hospice. For more information, call the Middlebury College Chaplain’s Office (802) 443-5626 or go to http://www.middlebury.edu/arts.
Photos Trent Campbell