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Sacred Heart Catholic Church will present “A Festival of Lessons and Carols,” a special worship service of Scripture and music, at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, according to a news release. A musical prelude to the service begins at 6:30 p.m.

The event, which is being directed Matthew Hoffman, Sacred Heart’s musical director, is free and open to the public and features the church’s artists-in-residence choir, Cantorum, which is made up of singers from various denominations. Charles Cossey, a member of Cantorum, will serve as Lector for the service.

Special celebratory Christmas festivals that have included both lessons and carols date back to the 19th century. Such festivals have usually consisted of a series of nine Scripture lessons with each lesson being followed by a carol or other appropriate musical selection, sung by a choir or by the congregation. Each musical selection reflects the lesson’s message in some way.

According to Hoffman, “the challenge comes in finding appropriate music for each of the lessons, although certain selections, such as ‘Once In Royal David’s City,’ which opens the program, and ‘Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming,’ which follows the second lesson, are traditional, as is ‘Joy To The World,’ which closes the program.”

Other musical selections include “Gaudete,” “O Magnum Mysterium,” “Ave Maria,” “Salvation Is Created,” “Verbum Caro Factus Est” and “Benedicamus Domi-no.” Except for the opening and closing selections, all choral music will be performed a cappella.

The members of Cantorum include sopranos Jen Budnick, Pamela Davenport, Danielle Harmon, Jeanne LaHaie, and Rochelle Saunders; altos Maggie Wood, Rebekah Beger, Faye Crenshaw, Kay Heath, Alison Phair and Suzanne Stewart; tenors Mike Bricker, Tim Sandberg, Kent Simons and Paul Stewart; and baritones and basses Charles Cossey, Ken Galloway, Josh Guest, Mark Neupert, Jerry Lemieux and Samuel Stewart.

Suzanne Stewart and Hoffman will perform “Silent Night” as a duet, with Stewart playing flute and Hoffman accompanying her on piano. Stewart will also perform “I Saw Three Ships” as a piano solo.

A program describing the service as well as providing the words to the musical selections, along with a translation of those works that are sung in Latin, will be available to those attending.

For more information, telephone Cossey at 541-884-8484.