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Advent Lessons & Carols

  • Blessed John's 2532 Dupont Drive Irvine, CA 92612 USA (map)

Advent Lessons & Carols - 2018 at Blessed John Henry Newman Catholic Church is an annual tradition and one founded in our Anglican patrimony. 

Directed by Dr. Sandra Fryling, featuring the music of Praetorius, Schutz and Byrd.

Please bring a food and drink item to share for the reception to follow.
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HISTORY:
A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols was first held on Christmas Eve 1918. It was planned by Eric Milner-White, who at the age of thirty-four had just been appointed Dean of King’s after experience as an army chaplain which had convinced him that the Church of England needed more imaginative worship. (He devised our Advent Carol Service in 1934, and was a liturgical pioneer and authority during his twenty two years as Dean of York.) The music was then directed by Arthur Henry Mann, Organist 1876–1929. The choir included sixteen trebles as laid down in King Henry VI’s statutes, but until 1927 the men’s voices were provided partly by Choral Scholars and partly by older Lay Clerks, and not, as now, by fourteen undergraduates.

A revision of the Order of Service was made in 1919, involving rearrangement of the lessons, and from that date the service has always begun with the hymn ‘Once in royal David’s city’. In almost every year some carols have been changed and some new ones introduced by successive Organists: Arthur Henry Mann; Boris Ord, 1929–57; Harold Darke (his substitute during the war), 1940–45; Sir David Willcocks, 1957–73; Philip Ledger, 1974–82 and, from 1982, Stephen Cleobury. The backbone of the service, the lessons and the prayers, has remained virtually unchanged.

The original service was, in fact, adapted from an Order drawn up by E.W. Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury, for use in the wooden shed, which then served as his cathedral in Truro, at 10 pm on Christmas Eve 1880. AC Benson recalled: ‘My father arranged from ancient sources a little service for Christmas Eve – nine carols and nine tiny lessons, which were read by various officers of the Church, beginning with a chorister, and ending, through the different grades, with the Bishop.’ The suggestion had come from GHS. Walpole, later Bishop of Edinburgh.

Almost immediately other churches adapted the service for their own use.

Earlier Event: December 8
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception