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Home > Lessons and Carols at PHC on Saturday, December 7

Lessons and Carols: A Tradition Steeped in Symbolism and Hope

November 22nd, 2013

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722

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Lessons and Carols 2012

Each year during the advent season, students gather to participate in the old tradition of Lessons and Carols, a service outlining the fall of man, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus. Around 500 people assemble annually to listen to PHC’s chorale tell the story of Jesus through song, a narrative sprinkled with familiar Christmas carols. This year’s service takes place on Saturday, December 7 at 7:00.

Dr. Steven McCollum directs the service each year. He believes part of the service’s beauty is found in many the reoccurring elements (the aesthetic, the scripture reading, the format of the service, and many of the songs) combined with new music. While the orchestra is returning to play, this year also features a harp ensemble.

“We hope it’s a worship service that points our hearts and minds toward the season and toward the Lord,” he said. “I hope the souls of our guests will be refreshed by the beauty of the service. And I hope their spirit will be challenged to carry on the good news as believers.”

Senior and first alto Katie Finnell is excited to participate in Lessons and Carols for the third year in a row. She is drawn to the music Dr. McCollum picks.

“It’s challenging, beautiful, and contains a connection to the past,” she said. She believes beauty is often found in maintaining traditions of the past, particularly the Christmas tradition since it celebrates the birth of Jesus. She loves that PHC participates in Lessons and Carols, since it has existed for over a hundred years and connects the school to the many other institutions who partake in the tradition.

“We are told throughout scripture to praise the Lord with our voices,” Finnell said. “Lessons and Carols is beautiful and lifts up your soul. It’s a beautiful art form.”

The service is free to the public and the community is welcome to attend. Upon entrance each person is given an unlit candle to hold for the duration of the evening. Near the end of the service, the choir begins singing O Holy Night and two candles are lit. Each person must light their neighbor’s candle until the entire room sparkles with hundreds of tiny flames. Dr. McCollum means for this gesture to be symbolic – each person receives the light of Christ and must share it with those around him.

For more information on Lessons and Carols, and to view last year's presentation, click here.

Watch Lessons and Carols live via our webcast.