By Tam Davis

On Sunday December 22, in Grace Church, Sutton, singers and readers from Grace Anglican and Cavalry United Churches, joined by the Knowlton Children’s Choir, will celebrate the Festival of Nine Lessons with Carols, which will include a traditional Christmas pageant.

This very popular service, often held on Christmas Eve, retells the biblical stories of the fall of mankind, the promise of the Messiah and the birth of Jesus in nine succinct readings (lessons) from Genesis, the books of the prophets and New Testament Gospels, brilliantly illuminated by joyful singing of Christmas carols, hymns and choir anthems.

Sarah Hoblyn, a well-known accomplished organist at Grace Anglican and a resident of Knowlton, recently told Tempo: “The service of Nine Lessons with Carols was originally written by Archbishop Benson then Bishop of Truro, Cornwall, England in 1880. According to my husband John, who has roots in Cornwall, Benson, alarmed by local alcohol consumption during the festive season, conceived the service as a means to lure revellers out of the pubs and into church on Christmas Eve!”

“The service was modified for use in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge in 1918. It is this version that has been made famous by being sung and broadcast to millions worldwide every Christmas Eve, by the King’s College choir.

“Perhaps we would not truly celebrate Christmas without hearing this service, beginning with a solo treble singing ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ and the First Lesson recounting the fall of Adam and Eve. It runs through to the great mystery of the Ninth Lesson story in St. John 1, which starts with ‘In the beginning was the Word’, and ends, ‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,… full of grace and truth’. The service ends appropriately with the rousing carol ‘Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.’

So be sure to celebrate this special Christmas service and pageant at 10:30 a.m., Sunday December 22, in Grace Church, 52 Principale sud, Sutton.