'Come to the Manger' Theme of University's December 2 Festival of Lessons and Carols

Festival of Lessons and Carols
About 200 musicians, including five University music ensembles and other musicians, are featured in the December 2 Festival of Lessons and Carols at Our Lady of Mercy Church, Chicago.

School of Music ensembles joined by community youth musicians

CHICAGO (November 19, 2012) — Focusing on Advent, Christmas and Epiphany celebrations, North Park University will present A Festival of Lessons and Carols, December 2, at Our Lady of Mercy Church, 4432 N. Troy St., Chicago. The event will begin at 4:00 pm, and features the theme, "Come to the Manger."

The Festival of Lessons and Carols is presented for free by the University. However, because of limited seating, attendees are asked to reserve general admission tickets online. More than 800 people attended in 2011.

Lessons and carols is a worship format first used in the Church of England in the late 1800s. "The celebration of lessons and carols is an ancient tradition shaped by faith-filled Christians over many generations," said Dr. David Parkyn, University president. "The story of Christian faith — from the creation of the world to the birth of savior of the world — is retold as words of Scripture and poetry are read and sung. Coming out of the Christian church in the West, at North Park the Festival of Lessons and Carols is transformed into a wonderful offering of Advent praise and anticipation as the music of many cultures trumpets the birth of Christ." 

The festival theme provides attendees an opportunity to focus on the simplicity of the manger and the infant Jesus, said Dr. Julia Davids, assistant professor and the Stephen J. Hendrickson Endowed Chair in Music, School of Music. Lyrics from John Rutter's "Candelight Carol," highlight the theme and its simplicity, she said: "Shepherds and wise men will kneel and adore him, Seraphim round him their vigil will keep; Nations proclaim him their Lord and their Savior, but Mary will hold him and sing him to sleep."

Scripture readings from Genesis, Isaiah, Micah, St. Luke, St. Matthew and St. John will be presented by North Park University students, faculty, and staff, as well as representatives of Our Lady of Mercy Church. Music will be performed by about 200 musicians, including Margaret Martin, University organist, and University musicians in five ensembles:

The musical selections in the service are well written and arranged, and provide something for everyone, Davids said. "The variety of Christmas music for all ensembles is so incredible," she said. "To choose a dozen pieces of music to highlight Christmas Scripture is challenging, because there is so much great music out there."

Musical selections begin with the processional hymn, "O Come All Ye Faithful," followed by Johann Sebastian Bach's "Overture" from Third Orchestral Suite. Throughout the service are well-known pieces such as "Go Tell it on the Mountain," "Ave Maria," "Mary Had a Baby," "Silent Night," and "Joy to the World!," as well as music written by contemporary composers. Vocal pieces will be sung in English and Latin, as well as Spanish selections to be performed by the University Choir, accompanied by harp, marimba and guitar, Davids said.

Preceding the benediction is "The First Nowell," a piece to be performed by combined choirs and orchestras. The selection was arranged by Mack Wilberg, an American composer, arranger and conductor. "This is a stunning piece, with beautiful orchestration, written for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir," Davids added.

The North Park musicians will be joined by professionals, plus student musicians from the YOURS Orchestra at Hibbard Elementary School, Chicago, and the Chicago Children's Choir – Albany Park Division, Davids said. The Chicago Children's Choir will perform a recital at 3:30 p.m. prior to the festival service.

Use @npunews to follow North Park University News on Twitter. For further information or resources, contact John Brooks, Director of Media Relations and News, via email or at (773) 244-5522. Learn more about North Park University.

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