The annual Christmas Service of Lessons and Carols at Williams College will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, December 3 and 4 in Thompson Memorial Chapel. As always, the identical services will feature choral music by the College’s Concert and Chamber Choirs, congregational singing of familiar carols, and the traditional reading of the biblical Christmas story.
There is no admission charge for either service – but all are encouraged to bring an item of non-perishable canned or packaged food for local emergency food pantries.
The Williams Concert and Chamber Choirs will perform an array of traditional arrangements under the direction of Bradley Wells, Director of Choral/Vocal Activities and Lecturer in Music. Organist Edwin I. Lawrence will be joined by several organ students in playing the Prelude (which begins at 3:40 p.m.) - and the Williams Handbell Choir will play a festive Postlude after each service.
Students, faculty and staff from the College and members of the local community will read the traditional “lessons” derived from the biblical Christmas story. The Rev. Rick Spalding, Chaplain to the College, will deliver a meditation, and Fr. Gary Caster, Catholic Chaplain, will serve as liturgist. As always, a free-will offering of money will be received at the conclusion of each service – this year for the benefit of the Swiss alpine rescue service which came to the assistance of a group of Williams students during a hiking accident last June that claimed the life of Henry Lo ’10; and also for the benefit of Casa Materna, a residence for poor rural women in the final weeks of high-risk pregnancies in the region of Matagalpa, Nicaragua.
The service, modeled on the traditional Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols first held on Christmas Eve in 1918 at King's College Chapel in Cambridge, England, has been described as one that "presents the Christmas story in an ambience of mystery, splendor, hope and joy." The Service of Lessons and Carols has been a beloved holiday tradition at Williams since the 1960’s.
Parking is available in the lot behind Thompson Memorial Chapel, on Hopkins Hall Drive. For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the on-line map at www.williams.edu/home/campusmap/.