Advent Festival of Lessons & Carols is held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Embracing an Advent tradition that dates back to 19th century England, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland presented the Festival of Lessons and Carols on the evening of Friday, December 15.

Through Scripture readings, hymns, and prayer, the festival helps the faithful prepare for the upcoming celebration of Christ’s birth by sharing the story of salvation.

“O God, who sees how your people faithfully await the Feast of the Lord’s Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing,” prayed Bishop Robert Deeley, who presided at the service.

The nine readings, or lessons, began with story of Creation from Genesis, continued with the prophetical writings of the Old Testament, including the Books of Jeremiah and Isaiah, and then told of the Angel Gabriel's appearance to Mary and of the birth of Christ. They then concluded with the commissioning of the apostles to “‘go, therefore,’ and make disciples of all nations.”

At the festival held at the cathedral, the readings were shared by diocesan seminarians Matt Valles, Nick Hershbine, and Joseph Beale.

Each reading was accompanied by a related hymn, intended to illuminate the message. They included “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “There Shall a Star Come Out of Jacob,” and Marian selections such as “Alma Redemptoris Mater,” “Ave Maria,” and “Behold a Mystical Rose.” All were beautifully sung, some in English, others in Latin, by members of the Cathedral Choir and Scholas, under the direction of Dr. Bridgette Wargovich, director of Sacred Music.

The evening ended with those in attendance praying the Our Father and with a prayer by the bishop for “the needs of the whole world, for peace and justice on earth, for the unity and mission of the Church for which Christ died, and especially for his Church in our country and in this city.” The bishop also remembered in prayer those who are poor, hungry, oppressed, sick, lonely, and unloved, as well as children, the elderly, and those who mourn.

Altar servers
Father Kevin Upham and Father Augustine Foka
Bishop Robert Deeley
Choir members
View of the sanctuary from the back of the church.
Matthew Valles shares one of the lessons.
Bridgette Wargovich
Nicholas Hershbine shares a reading.
Joseph Beale shares a reading
Parishioners singing