Holy Cross Celebrates Annual Festival of Lessons and Carols Virtually

Valentin De Jesus '21

The 42nd year of the beloved holiday tradition brought the community together in a time of dispersion

The 42nd Annual Festival of Lessons and Carols at College of the Holy Cross was held on December 18, 2020, via a YouTube premiere available to members of the Holy Cross community and their friends and family around the world.

Sponsored by the Office of the College Chaplains and the Department of Music, the event featured carols and hymns by the Holy Cross College Choir and Chamber Singers and the Holy Cross Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Allegra Martin, director of College Choirs and interim director of College Orchestra. The production was coordinated by Laurence Rosania, director of Music and Liturgy. As it traditionally has, the evening offered scripture and song, this year through virtual performances due to the ongoing international pandemic. Over 2,600 alumni, faculty, staff, students, and parents watched the premiere online the first week it aired.

Marybeth Kearns-Barrett '84, director of the Office of the College Chaplains, welcomed viewers to this year's Lessons and Carols, saying, "As we live with the suffering and loss of this pandemic, this advent season, we dare to proclaim: Emmanuel! Our liturgy tonight reminds us that God is indeed with us, offering us light and hope for our path."

Highlights of the festival included the world premiere of "O quam mirabilis est/O How Wonderful," by Kyle Irvine '21, which was commissioned especially for this year's Lessons & Carols. Performances by organists Matt Luca '22 and Michelle Sacco '21 bookended the festival, which also included music from cellist Joseph Cracolici '23 and soloists Siobhan Kiernan '21, Emma Manzi '24, Hannah Baker '21, Sadie O'Conor '22, Kyle Irvine '21, Allison Leahy '24, Isabelle Lindhurst '24, and Carina Gregori-Asadourian '23.

Readings from scripture were given by Marie Robert '21, Valentin De Jesus '21, Dorean Asuako '21, Omar Villalpando '21, Beth Griffin '21,and Joseph Ertle '21, and the Holy Cross College Choir, College Orchestra, and Chamber Singers gave moving performances. Omondi Andrew, Assistant Chaplain, offered a prayer.

The 42nd Annual Festival of Lessons and Carols also included some previous years' footage, featuring the 2018 College Choir and College Orchestra's rendition of "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" and the 2019 College Choir and College Orchestra's performances of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" and "Adeste Fideles."

Lessons & Carols was just one of the holiday traditions that Holy Cross observed this year despite the pandemic. The College also released its ">annual Christmas video message, and earlier in the month held the annual tree lighting on campus, which was also broadcast virtually. Watch the full recorded premiere of the ">42nd Annual Lessons & Carols here.