Lesson and Carols Celebrates 60 Years


The Trinity College Chapel will host the 60th Annual Christmas Festival of Lessons and Carols this Sunday, December 9 at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Lessons and Carols, which has been a   College tradition since 1958, will feature songs that have been sung at previous Lessons and Carols over the years. One of these pieces was performed at the very first Trinity College Lessons and Carols: “How Far is it to Bethlehem?”

A string quartet will play on the anthems and themes, Vaughn Mauren, Organist and Choirmaster at St. James’ Episcopal Church will perform on the organ, and the Gospel Choir and African Choir will be highlighted.  Members of Chapel Council and friends of the Chapel also decorated the building itself. Wait as Brendan Clark ’21, co-sacristan, says: “the Cross has been polished to a mirror-finish and the pews have been scrubbed to perfection.”

The Chapel Singers will also conduct the world premier of Robert Edward Smith’s, Trinity Composer-in-Residence, piece “Adam Lay YBounden.”

2018 is also the 100th anniversary of Lessons and Carols at King’s College, Cambridge University, where the tradition began in 1918 at the end of World War I.

Ansel Burn ’20, one of the Chapel Singers, told The Tripod that he is ecstatic about the yearly event: “I’m really excited, it is my favorite performance out of all the ones that Chapel Singers do, possibly my favorite one out of all the performances at Trinity. And it is just going to be an amazing service, and I think we as a group just sound really, really good.”

Professor Christopher Houlihan, John Rose College Organist and Director of Chapel Music, talked to The Tripod late Monday night to provide insight. He says, “The arc of this service, is that it tells the Bible story from creation, from Adam and Eve in the garden, to Jesus’ birth. It’s quite a dramatic story.”

The whole story of humankind, from Eden to Bethlehem, is told throughout the course of nine readings during the service.

Professor Houlihan said that the service is not just for Christians: “I think whether or not you consider yourself a Christian believer, there’s a lot of beauty and drama in that story arc. And I think whatever your convictions, you can appreciate Lessons and Carols for the spirit of that story and the spirit of that season, which is about hope in the world.”

Professor Houlihan emphasized the unifying nature of Lessons and Carols every year: “This is really one of the few Trinity events that is a big community event. People come from all over.” The 4:00 p.m. performance is especially jammed every year. “Every nook and cranny is filled” in the Chapel with members of the Trinity community and the Greater-Hartford region, all to congregate to share in holiday cheer.

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