For some, the retail madness that is Black Friday marks the official start of the holiday season. But for many in the Greenville community, it’s Furman’s annual Festival of Lessons and Carols that heralds the advent of the Christmas season.
The first Furman Service of Lessons and Carols was held in 1996 upon the opening of the Charles E. Daniel Memorial Chapel. The service has since become a beloved campus tradition and continues with the 22nd performance Sunday, Dec. 10 with services at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. in the Chapel.
While the performances are free, tickets are issued to control limited Chapel seating. This year, the ticket supply was depleted only 24 hours after becoming available to the public. But, there is still hope to secure a seat to this year’s performance. Fifteen minutes prior to each service, any unclaimed seats are released to non-ticketed patrons.
One of the most highly anticipated musical events of the year, the Festival of Lessons and Carols draws 350 per service—all gathering to experience what some have described as “magical.”
Originating in 1880 at the Cathedral of Truro in Cornwall, England, the service includes readings from Scripture and carols sung by choir and congregation—a format that has endured as a Christmas music staple in all parts of the English-speaking world. An advent favorite, the service presented by King’s College, Cambridge, is broadcast annually across the globe.
At the core of the magic happening in Daniel Chapel is the elite 20-member Chamber Choir made up of Furman’s most outstanding singing musicians. Under the direction of Music Department Chair Hugh Ferguson Floyd, the choir is committed to the thorough preparation of a wide variety of ancient, traditional and contemporary choral music. The Chamber Choir is accompanied by the Hartness Organ (built by C.B. Fisk), under the masterful control of University Organist Charles Tompkins.
The setting for the performance only enhances the ethereal experience. Amid the glow of a candlelit sanctuary, the Chamber Choir is joined by the congregation, the organ and other wind and string instruments. Nine Scripture lessons are interspersed throughout the service by Furman students, administration, faculty and clergy, and beautifully punctuate the music of the season.
For more information, contact the Furman Music Department at 864-294-2086.