Advent Festival of Lessons & Carols

The Festival of Lessons and Carols is a service of Scripture, song, and prayer that reflects the promise of the seasons of Advent and Christmas. During the service, a series of nine Scripture readings, or lessons, tell the story of salvation, recounting the fall in the Garden of Eden, the promise of a Messiah, the Incarnation, and the Great Commission to go forth and preach the Good News. Each lesson is followed by a carol or song that reflects the message that was shared and then a brief prayer. 

History of the Festival

The Festival of Advent Lessons & Carols originated in Cornwall, England, in the late 19th century. The Bishop of Truro, seeking to draw people out of the pubs and to refocus their attention on the true meaning of the season, came up with the idea of combining Christmas music with Scripture readings. The first “Nine Lessons and Carols” was held on Christmas Eve 1880 in a temporary wooden structure because the cathedral was still under construction. The popularity of the service spread throughout the Church of England as well as Catholic churches in England, Wales, and beyond.

Presentations in the Diocese of Portland

The Festival of Advent Lessons & Carols will be presented by several parishes this December. You will find a list of them below.


St Joseph Church, 231 Main Street
Tuesday, December 5, at 6:30 p.m.


St. Rose of Lima Church, 1 Church Street
Friday, December 15,  at 6 p.m.


Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul, 122 Ash Street
Friday, December 22, at 7:30 p.m.

Mechanic Falls

Our Lady of Ransom Church, 117 Elm Street
Sunday, December 17, at 2 p.m.

Old Town

Holy Family Church, 429 Main Street
Friday, December 15, at 6 p.m.


Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 307 Congress Street
Presented by the Cathedral Choir and Scholas with Bishop Robert Deeley presiding.
Friday, December 15, at 7 p.m.

South Portland

Church of the Holy Cross, 124 Cottage Road
Monday, December 4, at 6:30 p.m.


Sacred Heart Church, 326 Main Street
Friday, December 15, at 7 p.m.


Readings for the Advent Lessons & Carols (USCCB external site)