NORMAN — The choir of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 1601 W. Imhoff Road, invites the public to attend its annual Lessons and Carols service at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Organist Jon Roberts said Lessons and Carols is one of his favorite services of the year. Having formerly been the organist choirmaster at St. Michael’s, he recalled having 12 consecutive seasons of Lessons and Carols before the church took a break from the festival service.
Last year, St. Michael’s priest, Fr. Alan Sutherland, and organist and choirmaster Clyde Morris, recently deceased, brought back Lessons and Carols. Morris took ill, and Roberts, who has recently been appointed to his new post, stepped in to play the service.
“This year, Clyde chose the music,” Roberts said of his colleague and friend. “In my mind, we’re doing this as a memorial to our late choirmaster. Even the two (pieces) I added, ‘Polish Carol’ and ‘I Sing of a Maiden,’ Clyde knew and revered, and so I just did those as a further nod in Clyde’s direction.”
Debra Baggett, a soprano, said last year was her first time to sing a Lessons and Carols service. She said she enjoyed it but felt sad because Morris was ill and was unable to accompany the choir.
Choral selections include “Adam Lay Ybounden” by Boris Ord, “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Harold Darke, “Sussex Carol” arranged by David Wilcocks, “What Sweeter Music” by John Rutter and other traditional anthems and hymns.
David Zittel has been a tenor in the St. Michael’s choir since 1986.
“I think it’s a wonderful tradition, and I think it needs to be encouraged, fostered and brought forward,” Zittel said.
Sutherland echoed the sentiment.
“I think Lessons and Carols is a great way to prepare for Christmas,” Sutherland said. “(We tell) all the Old Testament prophesies and stories and end up with the incarnation. It’s has great spiritual depth.”
The first Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was introduced in 1918 at the King’s College Cambridge chapel. According to the King’s College website, it was introduced “to bring a more imaginative approach to worship.”
The festival was first broadcast in 1928 and, today, it reaches millions of people worldwide. Traditionally, the service opens with “Once in Royal David’s City.”
In the case of inclement weather, the service will be rescheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 22. Announcements will be made in the media and on the church’s website, stmichaelsnorman.org.
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