The Candlight Festival of Lessons & Carols

Sunday, December 20, 2020 from 5 to 6 pm

The History of this Traditional Service

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was first celebrated at King’s College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve, 1918. It was an adaptation of a similar service that had been written for the cathedral at Truro in 1880. A revision of the Order of Service was made in 1919, involving rearrangement of the lessons, and from that date the service has always begun with the hymn ‘Once in Royal David’s City’.

At King’s College, the Festival is a Christmas Eve service, and the lessons, and music, move deliberately from the season of Advent into Christmastide. A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast live in the United States around 450 radio stations, including American Public Media and its affiliates (Minnesota Public Radio and WNYC-New York, for example). Access YouTube to hear recordings of previous King’s College Festival Services.

Many other parishes have adopted the tradition, occasionally modifying it as needed.

The lesson texts presented here use the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, but at King’s College, the Authorized Standard (also known as King James) Version is always used.


The Lessons

First Lesson from Genesis 3: 8–15; 17–19
God tells sinful Adam that he has lost the life of Paradise and that his seed will bruise the serpent’s head.

Second Lesson from Genesis 22: 15–18
God promises to faithful Abraham that in his seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.

Third Lesson from Isaiah 9: 2; 6–7
The prophet foretells the coming of the Saviour.

Fourth Lesson from Isaiah 11: 1–3a; 4a; 6–9
The peace that Christ will bring is foreshown.

Fifth Lesson from the Gospel of Luke 1: 26–35; 38
The angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Sixth Lesson from Luke 2: 1; 3–7
St Luke tells of the birth of Jesus.

Seventh Lesson from Luke 2: 8–16
The shepherds go to the manger.

Eighth Lesson from the Gospel of Matthew 2: 1–12
The wise men are led by the star to Jesus.

Ninth Lesson from the Gospel of John 1: 1–14
St John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation.

Sunday Worship Services

8:00 am Holy Communion Rite I in the Sanctuary

10:00 am Holy Communion Rite II in the Sanctuary and streamed on YouTube


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Keeping Everyone Healthy and Safe at St. Peter's
Wearing masks during worship services is optional for all. There is a designated mask-wearing quadrant in the sanctuary for those who want to continue to wear masks.
Masks are optional in all other areas of the building and campus, except the parish office where masks are required.


St. Peter's Episcopal Church
59 Main Street
Cheshire, CT 06410


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