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SMC Advent event unites community

Katie Kohler | Monday, December 10, 2007

More than 135 singers spread Christmas spirit at the 25th annual “Lessons and Carols” in the Church of Loretto at Saint Mary’s on Sunday night.

The Women’s Choir, Collegiate Choir, Liturgical Choir, Hand Bell Choir and Liturgical Dancers, in coordination with campus ministry, the music department and the Sisters of the Holy Cross, performed seasonal choral selections, accompanied by Christmas-themed readings.

The event, which was widely attended by the College community, included members from the Michiana area, who comprise the Loretto Schola Choir, said campus minister Sister Betty Smoyer.

“About 300 people from the Michiana community also join the 100 students in the assembly and add great gusto to the communal singing of the carols,” she said. “Because a student from SMC-TV runs the in-house TV cameras [in the church], the Sisters of the Holy Cross in the convent can watch and pray and sing with us.”

“Lessons and Carols,” which began in 1982, is the traditional Christmas Eve service before mass in the Anglican tradition, Smoyer said.

“In its original form, it consists of a series of seven Scripture readings, along with a variety of choral selections and carols for our assembly,” she said. “At Saint Mary’s, we have adapted that structure to meet our needs and created a candlelight service of prayer, readings, carols, choral selections and liturgical dance.”

While deeply rooted in the Christmas tradition, “Lessons and Carols” also brings the College community together.

“It is an ecumenical celebration of the Advent and Christmas seasons for Saint Mary’s,” Smoyer said. “We have the opportunity for sharing the mysteries of the seasons from a variety of readings both scriptural and other sacred texts.”

“Lessons and Carols” helps the community, by donating canned goods and money to the Sr. Maura Brannick Health Clinic on Chapin Street and Western Ave.

“We step back and celebrate together the closeness of our God to us in the midst of the busy end of the semester rush,” Smoyer said.

The tradition of “Lessons and Carols” has remained unchanged for over 20 years, Smoyer said.

“Alumnae write back to [music director] Dr. Menk and I and describe how much they miss celebrating the season without Lessons and Carols and how treasured their memories are of that closing ritual,” she said. “The singing of “Silent Night,” the dancing and the candlelight seem to offer a healing energy that sustains well beyond the evening.”