ABC Lessons and Carols at OUR Cathedral!

As I went to Mass this afternoon, I almost tripped over the multiple electrical leads leading in all directions. There were several big ABC TV trucks outside the Cathedral, and cameras and pews moved, and all sorts of stuff, not to mention the Chrissy decorations all up about a month and half too early. What’s all this then?, I asked myself.

Well, the mystery is solved. According to this story, its all because Aunty is coming to town to record Carols and Lessons for the first time at the Micks’ joint, rather than at the local Anglicans.

ABC recording of the St Patrick’s Cathedral Annual Carols and Readings Service
Wednesday 19 November 2008
7pm, St Patrick’s Cathedral
Cathedral Place
East Melbourne

The ABC will make a recording of the Annual Carols & Readings Service at St Patrick’s Cathedral. This service is usually held Sunday before Christmas Day.

This is the first time the ABC has ever recorded a Christmas service in a Catholic Church. [How about THAT, eh?]

We invite you to be a member of the Congregation for this very special occasion.

Please make a note of this in your diary and come along to prepare together for Christmas in this way.

I know that our Cathedral Choir is second to none (hat tip to the Herr Kapellmeister, Dr Geoffrey Cox (admittedly, a convert we nicked from the Anglicans) and well up to the job, but what worries me is how they are going to manage to get a whole congregation of singing Catholics…

Oh well, it is only Christmas Carols after all. Even Catholics should be able to manage that. Good luck, Aunty.

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0 Responses to ABC Lessons and Carols at OUR Cathedral!

  1. Fraser Pearce says:

    First time in a Catholic church…

    Does this mean we can expect ‘A Marty Haugen Christmas’?

  2. Schütz says:

    Do you that, mercifully, there are NO Christmas songs by Haugen in Gather Australia? I don’t know if he has actually written any, but I guess even Catholics would feel cheated if they were served up Marty Haugen on Christmas Eve instead of “O Holy Night”…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t it be more, dare I say it, Catholic, if the Church in Melbourne did something more overly Catholic like Christmas Vespers or Compline???

    The Anglicans have well and truely sown up the Carols Service and do an excellent job. But how about something more and distinctly Catholic.

    Same goes for Holy Mass, too, I think.

  4. Rebecca says:

    From what I know, it’s the traditional readings and carols service, held every year at the Cathedral (usually in December).
    This is the 41st annual one.

    The ad for the service last year read: “The music and readings at this service are drawn from scripture and from the Liturgy of the Hours for Advent.”
    You can’t get much more Catholic than that.

    So no Marty Haugen, Little Drummer Boy or Jingle Bell Rock.

  5. Anonymous says:


    well, I think you can get more Catholic that “drawn” from scripture and that is the singing “of scripture” which is what the Hours actually are.

    Isn’t this the point: that The Hours, as Catholic Liturgy, are pretty much forgotten and replaced by pale imitations (even if they are “based on” “drawn from” the same sources).

    Pontificial Vespers is a sight to behold. I had the good fortune to participate in the Pontifical Vespers in the Extraordinary Form celebrated by Cardinal Pell during WYD in Sydney, and it was completely unforgettable. I only wish others could experience something like this too! And that can! But they need to ask.

  6. Rebecca says:

    Fair enough, anonymous.

    I just wanted to point out that it’s not the kind of Christmas carols you hear at Carols by Candlelight.

  7. Anonymous says:


    noted, and that’s correct. Thankfully!

  8. Schütz says:

    And what people really like about lessons and carols are the carols. That’s why they tune in on Christmas Eve, so the whole family can gather round and sing carols. No offence meant, but I don’t think pontifical vespers would have the same drawing power…

    And just a question: what is the history of the Lessons and Carols service? How recently was it invented? Is it a post-Reformation idea? I would guess so, since carols are a fairly recent phenomenon (even though there are a few really old ones out there still in use, like Adam Lay Aboundened).

    But the format seems very similar to the old “Vigil” format, of a reading followed by a psalm, with the psalm replaced by a carol.

    So it might actually be quite “Catholic” after all!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hang on, Herr Schultz, isn’t what you say the very point I’m trying to make?

    Wiki – that very reliable source – tells us that the order of Nine Lessons and Carols was adapted from an order drawn up by Edward White Benson, who would later become Archbishop of Canterbury, for use at a 10 pm service on Christmas Eve in 1880 that took place in a temporary wooden shed serving as his cathedral in Truro, Cornwall.[1] Based on an idea of the future Bishop of Edinburgh, George Henry Somerset Walpole,[2] the purpose of the service was to keep men out of pubs on Christmas Eve.[3]

    In other words, a very post-Reformation idea.

    Personally, I would imagine the idea of singing carols in Church as a service is likely to go back even further, given their popular origin, but this just underlines the fact: a carol service is not inherently liturgical in the Catholic sense.

    Why do we not recover what is liturgical in the Catholic sense.

    As far as Pontifical vespers not being a drawing card, I would respectfully say that never have I been to a liturgical service as “charged” as the Pontifical Vespers in the Extraordinary Form at WYD. The whole service was deeply prayerful – profoundly, and matched only a few days later by the Adoration with the Holy Father – what happened as the congregation pounded out “Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus Imperat”, I’ll take to the grave.

    The simple reason we fall into the trap of saying this won’t attract anyone is because we never see it in order to judge it. Like that’s a rational, really empirical approach, no?

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