The Festival of Lessons and Carols is a service of Scripture and song that dates to the late 19th century. In this service, we listen to nine Scripture lessons which recount the Fall, the promise of a Messiah, the Incarnation, and the Great Commission to preach the Good News. Each lesson is followed by a carol or other song that reflects on the lesson’s message and a brief prayer.
The readings start at the beginning with the Book of Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve sinning in the Garden of Eden and damaging their relationship with God. The lessons move on through the Old Testament prophets who foretell the coming of a Savior who will restore the relationship with God.
Each Lesson in a Lesson and Carols service consists of 4 things: a reading from Scripture, a carol or hymn, a prayer, periods of silence.
Each Lesson begins with a reading from Scripture. The readings selected for each Lesson will all touch on the coming of Christ as the Messiah. Readings regarding the Fall point towards the need for a Messiah. Readings from Old Testament prophets serve as reminders that a Messiah was long promised and foretold. Readings from the Gospels show how Christ fulfills the role of Messiah.
Carol or Hymn
After the reading a carol or hymn is sung that reflects the readings message. A mix of Advent hymns and Christmas carols will make up the bulk of music selections for the evening.
Finally a brief prayer gathering the wisdom of that Lesson and often asking of God a
related blessing is said.
Periods of Silence
Periods of silence interspersed throughout each lesson, allow those present time and space to reflect on the meaning of the lesson, what God might be trying to communicate, and how the lesson might apply to daily life.