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Originally published: 2013-12-02 13:57:53
Last modified: 2013-12-02 13:58:39

St. Mary choir to perform Lessons and Carols service

The choir of St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church will present a traditional Lessons and Carols service at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.

The service will be held at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum off Main Street this year because of church renovations. In case of inclement weather,  call the church office at (828) 295-7323 to confirm that the service is not being rescheduled.

Familiar to Christians everywhere through BBC broadcasts from King's Chapel, Cambridge, the service tells the story of the fall of Adam, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus as told in short Bible readings interspersed with carols and hymns. It has been sung in Anglican churches all over the world since the 1880s.

"While the terms 'carol' and 'hymn' are often used interchangeably, the two are, in fact, different," according to church officials. "Hymns tend to exhort us, or teach us some point of theology, while the purpose of the carol -- just like the stained glass windows in medieval cathedrals -- is to tell a Bible story in a way both joyous and reverential." 

 The St. Mary's choir has performed many times with various chamber orchestras, but its focus remains unaccompanied singing, and its heart is regular Sunday morning worship and monthly choral evensong. James Bumgardner has been organist and choir director at St. Mary's for more than 20 years, and has led the choir on several trips to study with the foremost directors of Anglican choral music in Cambridge, England.

The group has been choir-in-residence at Durham Cathedral in England twice, and has sung services for St. Mary the Virgin in New York City, as well as representing North Carolina at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.