November 23, 2010 // Local

Lessons and Carols to offer second service this year

Joe Higginbotham directs the choir during rehearsal for the Festival of Lessons and Carols on Nov. 14.

By Alicia Smith

MISHAWAKA — Audience members of the Festival of Lessons and Carols can prepare to take a brief journey through salvation history, Joe Higginbotham, director of liturgy and music at St. Bavo Church said.

The service, which was first held in 2005, has traditionally been offered once per year. With a full house last year, Higginbotham said the service is expanding, offering two dates and locations.

“Last year we had a full church, so it’s really been growing,” he said. “The kids really do a great job so people really look forward to it. I’ve got a lot of wonderful feedback from it.”

Higginbotham said the Festival of Lessons and Carols has grown each year, estimating that about 250 attended in 2005 and about 400 last year.

Hopes are high for this year’s attendance, and Higginbotham said he estimates about 700 to 750 people will be present.
According to Higginbotham, the second service was created to offer the Festival of Lessons and Carols to more members of the community.

“The second service will allow more people the opportunity to come because no matter when you have it, some people can’t come. …” Higginbotham said. “Plus (when) you have it at a different place, it expands the possibilities.”

The Festival of Lessons and Carols incorporates nine Scripture readings, leading the audience through the history of salvation in the Catholic Church. Higginbotham said the lessons start with a reading from the Book of Genesis, and end with a reading from the Book of John.

“Those are just Scripture readings that really are generally people’s favorites,” he said. “They’re really powerful about who we are as a Church and where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Those are just our stories, so to speak.”

Father Bob Lengerich, parochial vicar at St. Pius X Church in Granger, will preside at both services.

“Father Lengerich is awesome. He does a brief reflection, a couple minutes or so, after each of the nine readings,” Higginbotham said.

According to Higginbotham, the audience can also expect to listen to a variety of carols, including “Joy to the World” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.” In addition, two original songs written by Higginbotham will be presented at the service.

“There’re about 18 pieces of music,” he said. “There’re generally about two carols or anthems after each reading.”

The choir is composed of students from the Antioch Youth Group and Marian High School. He expects about 35 members for the choir and the instrumental accompaniment.

Higginbotham said the Festival of Lessons and Carols dates back to 1880.

“The first outline was drawn up in like 1880 by Edward White Benson, and he later became archbishop of Canterbury,” he said. “He wanted to come up with a new service for Christmas Eve that would make it some variety to the service at his cathedral.”
According to Higginbotham, people are drawn to the Festival of Lessons and Carols because the service allows for reflection.

“People just really love the beauty and the power and the humility of the whole Christmas story,” Higginbotham said. “It’s just a really special time of year. People do generally get a little bit more reflective. I think it’s just a really special season. People are a little bit more aware of religion.”

The first service will be held on Dec. 5 at 3 p.m. at St. Joseph Church, located at 255 S. Mill St. in Mishawaka. The second will be Dec. 19 at 3. p.m. at St. Bavo Church, located at 511 W. Seventh St. in Mishawaka.

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