December at a school is a sensory experience. Despite the recent chill, the campus is a little greener with holiday decor. A few white, paper snowflakes have even been spotted decorating windows. A quick stroll through Lower School and you are immediately aware of the time of year. The nativity is filling up and the Advent flame is glowing. There are brightly colored, children’s drawings announcing that Santa is on his way. There are even notes in first grade handwriting asking the Grinch not to steal Christmas!
Of course the Chapel, too, is emanating cheer and joy. It is dressed in green wreaths, red ribbons and white twinkling lights. This recently set the stage for the annual Lessons and Carols performance by the Upper School choir. The event, now in its 14th year at Episcopal, has become a holiday tradition, providing the sounds of the season.
The Lessons and Carols service originated at King’s College in Cambridge, England in 1918 and takes the audience on a musical journey through the Bible. Performers begin lined along the Chapel walls as a solo voice heralds “Once in Royal David’s City”. The experience is intimate and personal. The teenagers performing seem professional and poised in all black. As the Biblical journey unfolds, the audience begins to join in with the sounds of “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World”.
As December marches on, more sights and sounds of the season will be seen and heard. Candles will be lit and gifts will be exchanged. There will be the hustle, bustle and stress of mid-term exams and the hustle, bustle and squeals of Lower School parties. This will give way to the calm, quiet and peace of the mid-year break, followed by January’s fresh faces and the promise of a new year.
Then before you know it, there will be the sights and sounds of the end of the year. White dresses and suits and pomp and circumstance.