‘Lessons and Carols’ continues a holiday tradition this Sunday

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College will host the annual holiday event “Lessons and Carols for Advent and Christmas” on Sunday, Dec. 8, at 4 and 7 p.m. at Mead Chapel. For 42 years, this service has been a special Addison County tradition, celebrated on the last Sunday of the college’s fall semester. A large audience of both college and community members and families will fill the chapel to share in a sense of community and hopefulness of the season.
Middlebury College students, staff, and faculty will read the “lessons,” readings from scripture that frame the Christmas story. Interspersed between the lessons, the Middlebury College Choir under the direction of Jeff Buettner will lead the congregation in singing Advent and Christmas music. College Organist and Emeritus Professor of Music Emory Fanning will provide accompaniment, and will also perform spirited prelude and postlude music. The carillon atop the chapel will welcome attendees with the sound of bells ringing down the hillside. Middlebury College Chaplain Laurie Jordan will lead the service.
There is no admission fee, but each year generous donations are collected for local community nonprofit organizations. Proceeds will be given to HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects), Elderly Services, and Addison County Home Health and Hospice.
The service is based on the Advent Service of Nine Lessons and Carols that has been celebrated at King’s College in Cambridge, England, every year since 1918, and broadcast to millions of listeners worldwide on Christmas morning through BBC World Service Radio. The event was established by Eric Milner-White, dean of King’s College Chapel and a World War I British army chaplain. A liturgical pioneer, he was convinced that the Church of England needed more imaginative worship. Since then, the music has varied, but the structure of the service has remained virtually unchanged.
The first Lessons and Carols service at Middlebury took place in 1971, under the direction of Emory Fanning and Chaplain Charles P. Scott. The community welcomed the colorful and thoughtful celebration. The Middlebury service was made famous by two public television specials. “Christmas in Vermont: A Celebration of Lessons and Carols” was filmed in 1984. “A Vermont Christmas,” narrated by actor Burgess Meredith in 1988, was filmed on location in Middlebury and on the College’s Bread Loaf campus, and was produced by Vermont Public Television. Over 200 public television stations rebroadcast these productions nationally over several years.
Mead Chapel is located at 75 Hepburn Road on the campus of Middlebury College. Free parking is available on Route 125/College Street, and on Old Chapel Road. Some handicap-accessible parking will be available on Hillcrest Road adjacent to the chapel. For more information, contact the Middlebury College Chaplain’s Office at (802) 443-5626.

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