St. Patrick Cathedral in Norwich hosts annual Service of Lessons and Carols

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Fri., Dec. 27, 2013
Richard Schumacher accompanies the Norwich Diocesan Choir on the drums in a processional piece for the annual Service of Lessons and Carols. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Richard Schumacher accompanies the Norwich Diocesan Choir on the drums in a processional piece for the annual Service of Lessons and Carols. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

For more than three decades, the biblical story of Christmas has been told in story and song at the Cathedral of St. Patrick’s annual Service of Lessons and Carols. Modeled after the traditional service conducted at King’s College in Cambridge, England, the service intersperses readings from scripture telling the story of the fall of man and the birth of Jesus as redeemer with Christmas musical compositions.

This year’s installment, the 34th, was the first held in the cathedral’s newly-restored sanctuary, which was completed last summer. It featured performances by the cathedral’s children and youth choirs and the Norwich Diocesan Choir, an ensemble of adult singers. Also featured were the cathedral’s youth and high school handbell choirs and the adult group, the Bells of St. Patrick.

This was the first Lessons and Carols for some members of the Cathedral Youth Handbell Choir, but they have played in public before. “We play on Saturday nights at the 5 o’clock Mass and for school Masses,” said Anna Ciriello, an eighth-grader at the cathedral’s parochial school.

The youth handbell ensemble is made up of seventh- and eighth-graders; the older students have been in the ensemble for two years, the players explained. “We practice three times a week,” said eighth-grader Sydney Corl. The girls give up their recess to take part in practices, she said.

As always, the audience was invited to sing along with familiar carols like “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful.” The traditional high point of the evening was the dimming of the cathedral’s lights and the lighting of candles for the singing of “Silent Night” by choirs and audience members alike.


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