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Release date:
Nov. 27, 2001
Contact: Deb Hammacher, Associate Director, 404-727-0644, or

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols Kicks off Yuletide Season

WHO: Emory University Chorus and Concert Choir, Conductor Mary Hoffman

WHAT: Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
WHEN: 8:15 p.m. Dec. 7, 2001, 5 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Dec. 8, 2001
WHERE: Glenn Memorial Auditorium, 1652 N. Decatur Rd., Emory.
COST: $10 general admission. 404-727-5050 or send e-mail to


For many Atlantans, the start of the Yuletide season begins with Emory University’s annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. Performed by the Emory University Chorus and Concert Choir, the program is based on the traditional Christmas service at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England. This magical melding of scripture lessons read in conjunction with the performance of international carols has been an Atlanta tradition since 1935.

The local tradition of Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols grew out of Christmas concerts first performed at Atlanta’s First Presbyterian Church in 1925. The annual event moved to Glenn Memorial Church upon its completion in 1931, and the current format of Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was adopted in 1935 and has met widespread popular and critical acclaim ever since.


The festival is filled with traditions such as the opening candlelight procession of the choir singing "Once in Royal David’s City" and the closing singing of "Silent Night." The service was developed in 1880 by E.W. Benson, bishop of Truro. The local tradition is so strong that several families who moved away from the area reunite at the concert every year in the same spot of the balcony, according to Eric Nelson, director of choral activities at Emory.

This year’s 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, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, presidential distinguished professor of anthropology, African American studies and women 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," says Hoffman. "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 men’s chorus and honors Emory’s rich heritage of male a cappella groups," says Hoffman.

Hoffman, an alumna of Emory, sees the opportunity to direct this year’s performance as " a great honor" and says she is "excited to see her fellow alumni return for the Festival each year."

The complete program is as follows:
The Prelude

The Processional Carol
Irby, "Once in Royal David’s City"

The Bidding Prayer

The Invitatory
J. S. Bach, "Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light" from Christmas Oratorio: University Chorus

The First Lesson
Pie Cantones, "Of the Father’s Heart Begotten": University Chorus

The Second Lesson
Clausen, "All that Hath Life and Breath, Praise Ye the Lord": University Chorus

The Third Lesson
Armstrong, "Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus": Concert Choir
Gardner, "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day": University Chorus

The Fourth Lesson

Congregational Carol
Redner, "O Little Town of Bethlehem"

The Fifth Lesson
Traditional English Carol, "Joys Seven": Women of the University Chorus
Traditional English Carol, "Bring a Torch": Jeanette Isabella, Organist Timothy Albrecht

The Sixth Lesson
Poulenc, "Hodie Christs natus est": Concert Choir
Rudolph, "Hodie Christs natus est": University Choir

The Seventh Lesson
Poulenc, "Quem vidistis postores dicite": Concert Choir
Traditional English Carol, "Scarborough Carol": University Chorus

The Eighth Lesson
Cornelius, "The Three Kings": Men of the University Chorus
Traditional English Carol, "The Waits’ Carol": University Chorus

The Ninth Lesson
Congregational Carol
"Adeste Fideles," arr. Willcocks, "O Come, All Ye Faithful"
The Collects for Christmas

The Recessional Carol
Mendelssohn, arr. Willcocks, "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing": Congregation and choirs

The Benediction

The Choral Response
German trad. and Gruber, arr. Purifoy and Schram, "Still, Still, Still/Silent Night": University Chorus


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