North Park University Ensembles Highlight "Festival of Lessons and Carols"

Lessons and Carols

Community student ensembles join University in Dec. 4 worship

CHICAGO (November 18, 2011) – Several North Park University ensembles, joined by other Chicago-area student groups and professional musicians, will lead the University's traditional Advent and Christmas worship, "A Star Is Shining: A Festival of Lessons and Carols," Dec. 4 at 4:00 pm. The event will be held at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, 4432 N. Troy St., Chicago.

More than 700 people attended last year's program, and more are expected this year. Admission is free; however, the University is asking attendees to reserve tickets because of limited seating. About 200 singers and instrumentalists will lead the 90-minute worship program, said Dr. Julia Davids, the Stephen J. Hendrickson Endowed Chair of Choral Activities, North Park University School of Music. "This is a wonderful event provided as an outreach to the greater North Park community, and it highlights the incredible music of North Park University's students," she said.

Lessons and carols is a traditional format first used in the Church of England in the late 1800s. Today, many different Christian churches have embraced the format of telling the Advent and Christmas story through biblical readings surrounded by music, Davids said.

The program's title and content was inspired by the poem, "Put Memory Away," written by Elizabeth Jennings, Davids said. "A star is shining on a joyful night. A young girl's Child is born to us tonight, and casts out pain and war," the poem says. The poem will be read by University School of Music junior Kara Peterson. It is set to music by British contemporary composer Bob Chilcott.

"The concept of focusing on a star, that there is light for our world through Jesus, that there is light for the darkness we face, is really compelling to me," Davids said. "That the star is shining, that it is going to cast out pain and more, is something to keep your eyes on and keep striving for."

Dr. David Parkyn, North Park University's president, will lead the festival's opening prayer, followed by Father Joseph Tito, Our Lady of Mercy Church, who will read the First Lesson from Genesis. Other Scripture readings from the Old and New Testaments will be read by University faculty and leaders, interspersed with choir and orchestra performances. The congregation will be invited to sing three hymns, accompanied by the orchestra, Davids said. The festival closes with "Joy to the World" and includes the congregation and all ensembles.

North Park University ensembles in the Festival include:

The Chicago Children's Choir – Albany Park Division, directed by Youna Cho, will sing a pre-service recital beginning at 3:30 pm and will sing in the main program. The YOURS Orchestra from Hibbard Elementary School, Chicago, will perform as well. The Festival organist is Michael Gagne, a North Park University senior.

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