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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols Sunday in Colton

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COLTON - Colton’s Zion Episcopal Church will be hosting another Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday.

The event includes a service of light, featuring the congregation singing carols selected to reflect the appointed lessons.

“We’ve done it for the last three or four years, but it’s not a concert, it’s a service. The service comes out of the Anglican Tradition. It’s most famous rendering of this service worldwide is the King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England,” church keyboard player Joe Liotta said. “It starts out with the service of light and goes through the Bible, leading up to Christmas and beyond with the specific readings. Each one of these pieces has music with it.”

While the Colton version of the service won’t be broadcast live like the King’s College Chapel edition, Sunday should still garner plenty of buzz.

Carols that will be performed include “Once In Royal David’s City,” “O Heavenly World,” “Eternal Light, Hark!,” “Angels We Have Heard On High,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” All of the songs will be from the 1982 Hymnal of the Church.

“We take the music in our hymnal and perform those. It’s not the choir singing it, it’s a congregation singing,” Mr. Liotta said. “We take songs that are known to the general public and to the congregation.

“It’s giving you a history of what led up to Christmas and Christ’s life. This is traditionally done during the Christmas season, which is Christmas Eve through the 12 days of Christmas, the day of Epiphany.”

Mr. Liotta noted that the church still has its regular service at 9 a.m. Sunday, but elected to have the special service later on in the afternoon. “Basically we start it in the afternoon so people can drive to church in the day time and not get back home too late.”

There are countless Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols services worldwide, many of them of larger than Colton’s. Despite the small knit group, Mr. Liotta feels that their service is special.

“Other people do Lessons in Carols around here too. Ours is a very simple, rural version of it,” he said. “We don’t have a huge crowd for this, but it’s a very moving service and a very quiet, reflective service.”

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