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Traditional RMC 'Lessons and Carols' brings in holiday season December 7

BILLINGS, November 18, 2014 – RMC's annual "Festival of Lessons and Carols" will usher in the holiday season on Sunday, Dec. 7, at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church, on the corner of 13th and Poly Drive, in Billings. It is free and open to the public. 

The concert has been a tradition of Rocky Mountain College for more than 30 years. It follows the same format as an old English tradition of "Lessons and Carols," which can be traced back to the 1880s in Cornwall, England. The first "Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols" was held at King's College in Cambridge, England, on Christmas Eve in 1918, and continues to be broadcasted annually by the BBC.

RMC's "Festival of Lessons and Carols" falls on the first Sunday in December and features the entire music department at Rocky Mountain College.

"The 'Festival of Lessons and Carols' showcases the Concert and Chamber Choirs, buoyed by winds and percussion and individual performances by RMC students and faculty alike," said RMC Director of Bands Tony Hammond. 

This festival is a service that tells the Christmas story through specific scripture readings, which describe the fall of humanity, the prophecies of a promised Messiah, and the birth of Jesus. These readings are interspersed with choral singing and instrumental music.

"The Festival of Lessons and Carols is a tradition that ties us to our church-related history," said RMC Chaplain Rev. Kim Woeste. "Sometimes people forget that Rocky Mountain College was established over 130 years ago through the cooperative efforts of the Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church, and the United Church of Christ." 

Each year, the "Festival of Lessons and Carols" begins with the processional fanfare, known as "Personent Hodie," which is a Christmas carol published in the 1582 Finnish song book Piae Cantiones. With an arrangement by Lara Hoggard, this processional will feature the RMC concert choir, percussion, and brass instruments.

The eight lessons will be read by members of the Rocky Mountain College community, including a number of faculty, staff, and students.

"The 'Festival of Lessons and Carols' honors the excellence of our music department, it honors our students, it honors our history and tradition – all in a way that anyone in the community can access and appreciate," said. Rev. Woeste.