Thursday December 13, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- One of the best known musical celebrations of the Christmas season is the Festival of Lessons and Carols. Locally, this yearly event, in which choral anthems and carols are alternated with readings and group singing, will be presented on Sunday at 4 p.m., at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church on the corner of Bradley Avenue and Putney Road.

It is presented by the choir of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, directed by Susan Dedell. Special guests are a string quartet of Kathy Andrew, Michelle Liechti, Peggy Spencer and Judith Serkin.

It is believed that the format for the service originated in England in 1880 as a way of luring men out of the pubs on Christmas Eve and into the churches, since group carol singing was such a popular activity. Whether this is true or not, several decades later, the Dean of King’s College, Cambridge, adapted the alternating lessons and carols format in a more formal setting and thus began a tradition that is enjoyed worldwide.

Perhaps the key to its popularity is its undogmatic nature. Avoiding direct teaching (there are no sermons or direct statements of creed), the Festival of Lessons and Carols uses artistic and literary imagery to tell a universal story of love.

Admission is free. St. Michael’s is handicapped-accessible. For more information, call the church office at 802-254-6048.