Ouachita Baptist University’s Ouachita Singers, Women’s Chorus and Handbell Ringers along with several students, faculty, staff and administrators will lead the 13th annual A Service of Lessons and Carols on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Mabee Fine Arts Center’s McBeth Recital Hall on Ouachita’s campus.
Adopted from the traditional Service of Lessons and Carols from Anglican tradition dating back to 1880, the Ouachita ensemble maintains elements of the 19th century traditions while adding a more modern and personal touch.
Dr. Gary Gerber, associate professor of music and director of choral activities, explained that the service is for spiritual and worship purposes rather than entertainment.
“In contrast to Ouachita’s Festival of Christmas which is more of an entertaining-type program, we hold this service of lessons and carols,” Gerber said. “The service is a worship service which alternates between reading scriptures and singing carols in celebration of the advent of Christ.”
The service will include organist Russell Hodges, associate professor of music. Along with Gerber, Hodges plays an integral role in the direction of the ceremony. Hodges selects which carol should follow which scripture and is responsible for the program.
“Each of the scriptures are chosen to foretell the coming of Christ,” Gerber added. “Mr. Hodges then decides which carol should be paired with each scripture to complement the other.”
There are a total of nine scripture readings, from both the Old and New Testaments. Each of the fine arts ensembles—the Ouachita Singers, Women’s Chorus and the Handbell Ringers—perform two songs each in addition to hymns interspersed with the scripture readings.
Not only is the service a collaborative effort among students, faculty and staff, but A Service of Lessons and Carols includes the audience as well.
In addition to the scripture readings and special music, Gerber said, “The audience usually participates in the processional, recessional and a couple of carols. We want everyone to feel as if they are participating in a worship service and not a musical concert.”
Ouachita President Rex Horne, along with faculty, staff and students, will read the scriptures during the service.
This year’s faculty and staff readers include: Susan Atkinson, School of Humanities administrative assistant; Dr. Byron Eubanks, director of the Sutton Center for Integrity and professor of philosophy; Dr. Danny Hays, dean of the Chesley and Elizabeth Pruet School of Christian Studies and professor of Biblical studies; and Stan Poole, vice president for academic affairs, dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and professor of English. This year’s student readers are Abbey Jamieson, a freshman Christian missions and mass communications double-major from Sachse, Texas; Jesse Pruett, a sophomore Biblical studies major from Harrison, Ark.; Stephen Chapman, a junior Biblical studies and Christian theology double-major from Van Buren, Ark.; and Trinka Newman, a senior Biblical studies major from Monticello, Ark.
Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Gary Gerber at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 245-5128.
By Hannah Clayton