Lessons and Carols and Advent Hymns

On Sunday, December 17, as part of Morning Worship, Parkway Baptist Church’s Christmas Choir (the Sanctuary Choir strengthened by seven Christmas singers) will present A Festival of Lessons and Carols by Hal H. Hopson. This service follows the traditional Lessons and Carols format begun in 1880 in England. Here is a brief description of how and where this seasonal service originated from the publisher of A Festival of Lessons and Carols.  

Lessons and Carols had its origin at Truro Cathedral (England) on Christmas Eve 1880, when a service of Scripture and supporting carols was developed by the Bishop of Truro, F.W. Benson. Some 38 years later, in 1918, this format was adapted for Christmas Eve at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England. The BBC broadcast from King’s College helped to popularize the Service of Lessons and Carols, and it was quickly duplicated by cathedrals and small churches throughout the world. The heart of the service continues to this day – that is, the retelling of the Christian’s story of faith from the fall of Adam to the coming of the Word Incarnate.

BBC Radio still live broadcasts this annual concert from King’s College Chapel. The program is typically simulcast by American Public Media and its affiliates at 10 AM Eastern Standard Time on December 24. For more information about the service, its history, and its traditions, click here

A Festival of Lessons and Carols uses scripture readings and familiar carols, such as “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “Joy to the World,” along with less familiar carols to retell the Christmas story. The service has several opportunities for everyone to participate and includes organ accompaniment, a string quartet, and even a dash of handbells.

In a different vein, below is a list of hymns that correspond with Parkway Baptist’s Advent themes for this year. I encourage you to use these in your private or family devotions by either singing them or simply reading the text for inspiration and contemplation.

1st Sunday of Advent – December 3

“Now the Heavens Start to Whisper”; Celebrating Grace Hymnal, Hymn 86

“Christians All, Your Lord Is Coming”; Celebrating Grace Hymnal, Hymn 85

2nd Sunday of Advent – December 10

“Comfort, Comfort Ye My People”; Celebrating Grace Hymnal, Hymn 89

“Prepare the Royal Highway”;Celebrating Grace Hymnal, Hymn 95

3rd Sunday of Advent – December 17

“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”; Celebrating Grace Hymnal, Hymn 83

“Rejoice, Ye Pure In Heart”;Celebrating Grace Hymnal, Hymn 312

4th Sunday of Advent – Dec. 24

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”; Celebrating Grace Hymnal, Hymn 79

“Once in Royal David’s City’; Celebrating Grace Hymnal, Hymn 104