Lessons and Carols comes to Holmdel parish for first time

December 18, 2020 at 5:41 p.m.
Lessons and Carols comes to Holmdel parish for first time
Lessons and Carols comes to Holmdel parish for first time

From Staff Reports

This Advent, St. Catharine Parish, Holmdel, will present its first Festival of Lessons and Carols with the goal of instilling hope and joy to all during the ongoing pandemic.

A service of Lessons and Carols traditionally includes readings from the Book of Genesis, the prophet Isaiah, and the Gospels of Luke, Matthew and John to recount the Fall of Man, the promise of a Messiah, the Incarnation and heaven’s Great Commission that all must spread the Good News. Each of the nine readings is followed by a prayer and a carol or song which inspires listeners to act upon what has been preached.

The Holmdel parish’s director of music, Kathy Dalton, explained the progression and intent of the service of Scripture and song which dates back to the late 19th century.

“It's not a concert at all; it's more like a para-liturgy, because it's very solemn, very serious,” Dalton said. “It builds in intensity right through to the joy of spreading the Gospel. The way it progresses, it leads you into hope.”

As with many other public events, the ongoing pandemic will prompt changes in the performance. Rather than including large choirs, the parish will invite cantors or soloists to sing from behind plexiglass barriers. But, Dalton hastened to add, the goal of the Lessons and Carols remains the same – to bring audiences deeper into the beautiful and joyous season of Christmas.

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“What I really want is for them to get out of it is the reverence of Christmas, the holiness of Christmas, the necessity of Christmas,” the director of music said. “Why do we celebrate the Birth of Christ, and what are we celebrating beyond the fact that a baby was born? Well, here's this Savior who took us out of all this gloom and brought us into the light. I'd like people to be able to have a prayerful experience with that.

“We need to experience some of the lift that we need out of this awful situation that we find ourselves in,” Dalton continued. “We are starting [the service] with that, and then we're going into something more joyful. The focus of Lessons and Carols is to lead you into that hope.”

St. Catharine Parish plans to livestream the performance and make it available on YouTube and other social media platforms. For the exact dates and times of Lessons and Carols, check the parish website at stcatharine.net.


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This Advent, St. Catharine Parish, Holmdel, will present its first Festival of Lessons and Carols with the goal of instilling hope and joy to all during the ongoing pandemic.

A service of Lessons and Carols traditionally includes readings from the Book of Genesis, the prophet Isaiah, and the Gospels of Luke, Matthew and John to recount the Fall of Man, the promise of a Messiah, the Incarnation and heaven’s Great Commission that all must spread the Good News. Each of the nine readings is followed by a prayer and a carol or song which inspires listeners to act upon what has been preached.

The Holmdel parish’s director of music, Kathy Dalton, explained the progression and intent of the service of Scripture and song which dates back to the late 19th century.

“It's not a concert at all; it's more like a para-liturgy, because it's very solemn, very serious,” Dalton said. “It builds in intensity right through to the joy of spreading the Gospel. The way it progresses, it leads you into hope.”

As with many other public events, the ongoing pandemic will prompt changes in the performance. Rather than including large choirs, the parish will invite cantors or soloists to sing from behind plexiglass barriers. But, Dalton hastened to add, the goal of the Lessons and Carols remains the same – to bring audiences deeper into the beautiful and joyous season of Christmas.

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“What I really want is for them to get out of it is the reverence of Christmas, the holiness of Christmas, the necessity of Christmas,” the director of music said. “Why do we celebrate the Birth of Christ, and what are we celebrating beyond the fact that a baby was born? Well, here's this Savior who took us out of all this gloom and brought us into the light. I'd like people to be able to have a prayerful experience with that.

“We need to experience some of the lift that we need out of this awful situation that we find ourselves in,” Dalton continued. “We are starting [the service] with that, and then we're going into something more joyful. The focus of Lessons and Carols is to lead you into that hope.”

St. Catharine Parish plans to livestream the performance and make it available on YouTube and other social media platforms. For the exact dates and times of Lessons and Carols, check the parish website at stcatharine.net.

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