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, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Lessons and Carols, Dec. 31, 2023

Dec. 31, 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 2023 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