For many Atlantans, the start of the Yuletide season begins with Emorys
annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. Performed by the Chorus and
Concert Choir, the program is based on the traditional Christmas service
at Kings College Chapel in Cambridge, England.
This melding of scripture lessons read in conjunction with the performance
of international carols has been an Atlanta tradition since 1935. This
years event will be held in Glenn Auditori-um, Dec. 78 at
8:15 p.m., with an early performance at 5 p.m. on Dec. 8.
The local tradition of Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols grew out of
Christmas concerts first performed at Atlantas First Presbyterian
Church in 1925. The annual event moved to Glenn Church upon its completion
in 1931, and the current format of Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
(adopted in 1935) has met widespread popular and critical acclaim.
The festival is filled with traditions, such as the opening candlelight
procession of the choir singing Once in Royal Davids City
and the closing singing of Silent Night. The service was developed
in 1880 by E.W. Ben-son, bishop of Truro. The local tradition is so strong
that several families who have moved away from the Emory area reunite
at the concert every year in the same spot
of the balcony, according to Eric Nelson, director of choral activities.
This years festival features the University Chorus of more than
150 singers, conducted by Mary Hoffman, with graduate student Jon Marc
Rutherford as pianist and Timothy Albrecht as organist. In addition, Johnnetta
Cole, retired Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, African
American Studies and Womens Studies, will be reading at the 5 p.m.
performance on Dec. 8.
The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols draws from the community
traditional concert goers who look to be enriched by the comfort of familiar
words and music, Hoffman said. I feel that by performing pieces
like Scarborough Carol, which combines the text of Away
in a Manger with the music of Scarborough Fair, we can
provide our audience with that familiarity that soothes them and brings
them back to the center of their lives.
Another crowd-pleaser this year is Cornelius The Three Kings
to be sung by the men of the University Chorus. I chose this piece
because it shows the strength of our mens chorus and honors Emorys
rich heritage of male a cappella groups, Hoffman said.
An Emory alumna, Hoffman considers the opportunity to direct this years
performance as a great honor and said she is excited
to see her fellow alumni return for the festival each year.
General admission tickets are $10. To order or for more information, call
404-727--5050 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.