The Northwestern State University Chamber Choir will present a candlelight service of “Lessons and Carols” Tuesday, Dec. 6 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 32nd 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 Northwestern Chamber Choir, founded in 1987, is the flagship choral ensemble at Northwestern State. The Northwestern Chamber Choir is comprised of 34 undergraduates encompassing a variety of different majors throughout the university. The choir frequently collaborates with composers and conductors for projects including “For a Breath of Ecstasy,” commissioned from Michael Trotta and “The Falling Stars” commissioned from Richard Burchard. The Northwestern Chamber Choir was the featured choir at the 2017 Louisiana Music Educators Association conference and was selected to perform at the 2019 Eighth National Collegiate Choral Conference National Conference in Maryland. In 2021, they placed in the top four of the Leonardo da Vinci Choral Competition in Florence, Italy. The Chamber Choir has also placed second in the Laurea Mundi Budapest in Budapest, Hungary and Second and Best Interpretation in the AVE VERUM ICC in Baden, Austria. Cummins and the Northwestern Chamber Choir have been invited to premiere the “Stabat Mater” by composer Richard Burchard in London, England at the Southwark Cathedral in June 2023.