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Highgrove singers to raise the roof of Christ Church Cathedral

All roads lead downtown to Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, December 19 as the Highgrove Singers lead parishioners and other guests in the yearly remembrance of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ through the Festival of Lessons and Carols.

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a format for a service of Christian worship that is traditionally held during the Christmas season. The story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus is told in nine short Bible readings from Genesis, the prophetic books and the Gospels, interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols, hymns and choir music.

“We are very pleased to have been asked by the Dean of the Cathedral to lead the service once again,”said Adrian Archer, director of the Highgrove Singers.”The music for this occasion will include both traditional congregational carols and modern twentieth century music for choir and congregation.”

The format for the service of lessons and carols was based on an order drawn up by Edward White Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury but at that time Bishop of Truro, in Cornwall, for use on Christmas Eve(24 December)1880. Tradition says that he organized a 10 p.m. service on Christmas Eve in a temporary wooden shed serving as his cathedral and that a key purpose of the service was to keep men out of pubs on Christmas Eve. The original liturgy has since been adapted and used by other churches all over the world

“The choir’s music for this occasion is dictated primarily by the readings,”said Archer.”So picking the music hasn’t been a very complicated thing. We hope to present some very lovely anthems and canticles by composers such as Eric Whitacre, Gordon Thornett, William Dix, Craig Courtney, Steve Pilkington and the dramatic”Sir Christemas”by William Mathias.

Accompanying the choir will be Yvonne Foulkes, Cathy and Lynden Flowers and at the great organ will be Dr. Sparkman Ferguson, titular organist of the Cathedral. Other readers during the Carol Service include Father Colin Humes, Joann Callendar, Rosemary Hanna, Elridge McPhee and Marvin Lockhart. Admission to the Carol Service which gets underway at 6:30 p.m. is free.

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