Posted by: Fabien Tousignant and Myrna Rootham
After over a two-year hiatus, the monthly concert series Music at Trinity returns with a service of Lessons and Carols featuring Trinity Anglican Church’s very own choir led by Music Director Fabien Tousignant. This will be a wonderful opportunity to experience the Christmas story through lessons, choral treasures, and the chance to sing some of your favorite Advent and Christmas hymns in the beautiful acoustics of Trinity Anglican Church.
The Christmas season rings out with tradition, and Trinity is celebrating the run up to Christmas, known as Advent, with a “service of lessons and carols,” a musical gem that is most often associated with Kings College Cambridge and with the end of the First World War. The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols was first drawn up by Archbishop Benson when Bishop of Truro and was performed on Christmas Eve in the Cathedral in 1880. Following Bishop Benson’s appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1883, the service gained popularity throughout the Anglican Communion and made its way into Roman Catholic Churches in England.
The Rev. Eric Milner-White, a graduate of King’s College, was appointed college chaplain in 1912. When the war broke out in 1914, Milner-White volunteered as a military chaplain, and witnessed the horrors of trench warfare on the Western front. Decorated for courage under fire, he was discharged in early 1918 and returned to King’s College as Dean. Taking advantage of the established choral tradition of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, he introduced Benson’s carol service to King’s as a means of attracting people back to Christian worship. On Christmas Eve 1918, the first Nine Lessons and Carols was performed in King’s College Cambridge under the direction of Arthur Henry Mann.
Ten years later, in 1928, the service gained popularity when the BBC started what will then become a yearly broadcast with one exception in 1930. Even during World War II the service kept being broadcast in the BBC’s Overseas Services, which had started in the 1930s. Then in 1954 it was first televised on the BBC Television and conducted by Music Director Boris Ord. All of this contributed to the world-wide popularity of this service to which, millions of people are estimated to listen every year. In 2020, for the first time and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the service was pre-recorded and was not broadcasted live. We celebrate this gift at Trinity and hope that the service of lessons and carols can offer you Advent and Christmas “colour warmth and delight” in these challenging times as it was intended by Eric Milner-White.
Seasonal gems by composers such as Bach, Gibbons, Halley, Joubert, Ord, Poston and Willcocks, to name just a few, will be featured in this service and we hope you can join us as we celebrate the Christmas story through the gift of music.
Lessons and Carols as part of Music at Trinity will be presented at Trinity Anglican Church at the corner of Bank and Cameron on Saturday, December 17, 2022 at 4pm. Freewill offering.
Fabien Tousignant is the Director of Music and Organist at Trinity Anglican Church.
Myrna Rootham is a warden and choir member at Trinity Anglican Church.
Featured in the December 2022 OSCAR.