60th Annual Festival of Lessons and Carols

The 60th annual Festival of Lessons and Carols at the University of the South will be celebrated at three services, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, December 7, and at 4 p.m. Sunday, December 8.

At once solemn and joyful, the Festival of Lessons and Carols evokes the meaning of the Advent season through the radiant music of the University Choir and selected readings by members of the University and Sewanee community. The service is based on one that has been sung annually since 1918 at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England. It features the University Choir under the direction of University organist and choirmaster Dr. Geoffrey Ward.

As part of the University mission and the program of education and formation of All Saints' Chapel, the Festival Service of Lessons and Carols offers students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to experience one of the oldest traditions of Anglican music and Advent expectation.

As part of the University's outreach to others, the public is also welcome to attend; some tickets were available by request on November 20. All available spaces were reserved quickly, but it still may be possible to attend a service without a reserved seat. The University expects that some people with tickets will decide not to attend, and will distribute those tickets in advance of each service: 

  • There will be a signup sheet in Convocation Hall beginning at noon Saturday and Sunday. People who wish to attend a service may add their names to the list for a service that day.
  • Thirty minutes before each service (3:30 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and 3:30 p.m. Sunday), people from the signup list will be seated with tickets that were not picked up by those who reserved them.
  • Tickets will be distributed in the order in which people signed up.
  • Walk-up guests must be present in Convocation Hall 30 minutes before the service in order to receive a ticket.

While there are no guarantees, all walk-ups have been seated during the last six years in which the ticketing system has been used. Gailor Auditorium will also be available for overflow viewing.

Guests with reservations should pick up their tickets in Convocation Hall on the day of the service between noon and 30 minutes prior to each service. Tickets not picked up by 3:30 (for Saturday and Sunday 4 p.m. services) or 6:30 (for the Saturday 7 p.m. service) will be released for walk-up guests.

For questions not answered here, please contact the Lessons and Carols office at 931.598.3247 or via email at lessonsandcarols@sewanee.edu


"One of the highlights of the school year is the annual service of Lessons and Carols near the end of the Advent semester. It regularly attracts as many as 3000 people to campus each year, and has been featured in Southern Living, as well as Garden and Gun Magazine. At these services, the University Choir performs with special guest instrumentalists and often premiers works that have been composed especially for the choir." 

Lessons and Carols 2017