The Northwestern State University Chamber Choir will present a candlelight service of “Lessons and Carols” Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 145 Church St. in Natchitoches. Admission is free and open to the public. Dr. Nicholaus B. Cummins will conduct the Chamber Choir. This is the 29th consecutive year the NSU Chamber Choir has presented this service.
The “Lessons and Carols” is a service based upon a century-old tradition established at Kings College, Cambridge, in England, where it is performed every Christmas Eve to standing room only crowds and broadcast worldwide on the BBC. “Lessons and Carols” consists of nine lessons, readings for both the Old and New Testament of the Bible, all related to the Advent and birth of Christ. Following each lesson, the choir singing a text that relates to each of the readings. During the carols, altar servers light a variety of candles, which remain lit throughout the service. Gradually, the church is transformed from darkness into light as the Service concludes in a festive recessional.
The premier vocal ensemble at NSU, the 36-member Chamber Choir is comprised of the top vocalists at Northwestern State. Each December, the Chamber Choir performs their “Lessons and Carols” service at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, which has become a Natchitoches tradition.
Last month, the Chamber Choir will one of 12 ensembles from the United States invited to perform at the National Collegiate Choral Organization Conference at the University of Maryland for college/university and choral professionals from around the country. This was the first national invitation for a choir at Northwestern State.
This past summer, the Chamber Choir earned third prize in the Ave Verum International Choral Competition in Baden, Austria. The ensemble also performed in three European capitals at Saint Martin’s Basilica in Prague, Czech Republic, Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vienna, Austria, and Saint Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava, Slovakia.
In 2018, the Northwestern State Lyric Choir won a Gold Medal in the Female Choirs category at the 3rd Budapest International Choral Celebration and Laurea Mundi International Open Competition and Grand Prix of Choral Music. The Chamber Choir received a Laurea Summa Cum Laude diploma in the Mixed Choir category and a Laurea Cum Laude diploma in the Musica Sacra (Sacred Music) category.