We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

January 1, Lessons and Carols

Jan 1, 2023 – 11am -A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is the Christmas Eve service held in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge England and was introduced in 1918.

Kings College Cambridge holds this service every Dec. 24. The main gate to Kings College opens at 7:30am for the 3pm service.  Many people get in the line by 5am for a 10 hour wait!

The 2022 service

It was conceived by Eric Milner-White, the Dean of the College, for Christmas Eve 1918 whose experience as an army chaplain in World War I had led him to believe that more imaginative Christmas worship was needed by the Church of England.  He actually reached back to an earlier time for a service structure.

The original service was, in fact, adapted from an Order drawn up by E.W. Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury, for use in the wooden shed, which then served as his cathedral in Truro, at 10 pm on Christmas Eve 1880. AC Benson recalled: ‘My father arranged from ancient sources a little service for Christmas Eve – nine carols and nine tiny lessons, which were read by various officers of the Church, beginning with a chorister, and ending, through the different grades, with the Bishop.”

The story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus is told in nine short Bible readings from Genesis, the prophetic books and the Gospels interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols, hymns and choir music. The readings can vary as can the music. Traditionally, “Once in Royal David City” is the opening hymn. Beyond that the service is flexible.

An opening prayer that is used provides a focus:

“We gather here to recall the mystery of our redemption. Though sin drew us away from God, he never stopped loving us. The prophets told of the coming of a Messiah who would initiate a reign of justice and peace. This promise was fulfilled in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Let us now reflect with joy on this wondrous mystery.”

Lessons and Carols is usually done at the beginning of Advent as an introduction to Advent or towards the end as a summary of all that has happened.

This St. Peter’s service is the perfect culmination of your Christmas week, a joyous celebration along with thoughtful, introspective moments. Plan now to attend.

King’s College Cambridge – As you have never seen it

The famous church in England, home of Lessons and Carols, built by Henry VII is altered by projectionist, Miguel Chevalier.

To illustrate Stephen Hawking’s research about black holes, Miguel Chevalier imagines an immersive environment made up of thousands of constellations that plunge the guests into the mystery of the universe.

Video Link

More examples

Prayer of Thanksgiving for the year just past…

God of new beginnings, we thank you for the year just past, with all of its joys and wonders. We thank you for all that we were able to do together . We thank you for giving us opportunities to serve You well and in doing so to let your light shine in our church and out in our world. We pray now for Your guidance in this new year, and for the courage to follow You wherever You would lead us. We pray for the strength to carry out everything that You will give us to do. And may our love for one another reflect the transforming love that You have for each one of us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

And a Blessing for the New Year!

From Pastor Dawn Hutchings

“The art of blessing is often neglected. The birth of a New Year calls forth the desire in us to bestow a blessing upon those we love. Several years ago, John O”Donohue, one of my favorite Irish poet’s created a New Year’s blessing for his mother entitled Beannacht-for Josie. It is a blessing of superior quality. And so, on this New Year’s Eve, may you all receive this beannacht with my added blessing for a peace-filled New Year in which the God in whom all of creation is held, might find full expression in your miraculous life!”

Beannacht – A New Year Blessing John O’Donohue

On the day when The weight deadens On your shoulders And you stumble, May the clay dance To balance you.

And when your eyes Freeze behind The grey window And the ghost of loss Gets into you, May a flock of colours, Indigo, red, green And azure blue, Come to awaken in you A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays In the currach of thought And a stain of ocean Blackens beneath you, May there come across the waters A path of yellow moonlight To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours, May the clarity of light be yours, May the fluency of the ocean be yours, May the protection of the ancestors be yours. And so may a slow Wind work these words Of love around you, An invisible cloak To mind your life.

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.

– Howard Thurman

Dr. Howard Thurman was an influential author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader. He was Dean of Theology and the chapels at Howard University and Boston University for more than two decades, wrote 20 books, and in 1944 helped found the first racially integrated, multicultural church in the United States.