Special to The Sumter ItemMayesville Presbyterian Church continues its tradition of presenting A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The special service tells the Christmas story with Scripture readings - the lessons - and …
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Special to The Sumter Item
Mayesville Presbyterian Church continues its tradition of presenting A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The special service tells the Christmas story with Scripture readings - the lessons - and carols sung by the congregation and choral music.
Organist and choir director Tammy Williams said the festival is the church's gift to the community in anticipation and celebration of Christmas. The public is invited to attend.
The Mayesville Presbyterian Church Choir under Williams' direction will lead the music, and the Rev. Brian Peake, pastor, will officiate. Flutist Barbara Rearden, violinist Brandi Sloan and organist/pianist Linda Coyne will be featured instrumentalists, and the church's handbell choir will perform.
Church and civic leaders will read the Scripture passages. They are Dr. Gordon Reed, pastor of New Harmony Presbyterian Church, preacher and author; Hampton Watson representing the youth of Mayesville Presbyterian Church; Kell Compton, Mayesville Town Council and Mayesville Presbyterian Church member; Ashleigh Compton, vice president, Women's Ministries of Mayesville Presbyterian Church; Nancy Williams, Mayesville Town Council; Angie Bland, financial secretary, Mayesville Presbyterian Church; Selena Smith, Mayesville firefighter; and Heath Watson, clerk of session, Mayesville Presbyterian Church.
Advent music will begin the program "to take participants through the progression of Christian salvation history as dictated by the service," Williams said.
Among the Advent carols are Jacques Berthier's "Prepare the Way" and the 9th-century chant "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," both of which express longing for the birth of the Savior after centuries of gloom. Christmas music will follow with joyful carols celebrating the arrival of the Messiah. Among these songs are "Away in a Manger" and the 17th-century "Comfort, Comfort, O My People."
The congregation will be invited to sing the familiar standards "Joy to the World," "O Come, All Ye Faithful," "Angels, We Have Heard on High" and many other carols.
Williams noted the history of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, associated mainly with King's College in Cambridge, England, since 1918, actually began in 1880 in Truro, England, possibly created by the local bishop as a service to keep the local men out of the pubs on Christmas Eve.
The service has become an annual tradition in many churches, and King's College's performance has been broadcast on radio since the early 1930s. For almost 40 years, it has been aired on public radio in the U.S.
Still in the same basic format, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols follows each reading with a "congregational carol or choral anthem that reflects upon the message of the lesson," Williams said. Since 1919, the service has begun with "Once in Royal David's City," she added.
Williams noted that the service begun in the Anglican church "has been adopted by every mainstream Christian denomination, and its celebration is happily anticipated every year." Mayesville Presbyterian Church invites the public to attend A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. An informal reception will follow the service. Those who attend are asked to bring a canned good or staple item to donate to Sumter United Ministries.
Mayesville Presbyterian Church is located off U.S. 76 at 109 W. Sumter St. in Mayesville.
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