On Nov. 29, the Roanoke College Choir and Oriana Singers performed their annual “Lessons and Carols of Christmas” service at the St. Andrews Catholic Church in Roanoke. This year, the students performed twice, once at 3p.m. and another at 5 p.m.
Both choirs perform their annual “Lessons and Carols” service, which consists of the choirs switching out to sing a total of 7 lessons and open processional and postlude. At both performances, the church was packed and only standing room was left for those who arrived late.
To start off the evening, Reverend Chris Bowen welcomed all those who attended and introduced the meaning behind the lessons being performed that night. Following his welcome, the audience was asked to sing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” along with the RC Choir as they walked through the middle aisle and onto the stage. Directed by Dr. Jeffrey Sandborg, the RC Choir beautifully finished off the song and patiently waited to start Lesson One.
Each Lesson sung by the choirs was introduces by a different student giving background to the story that is depicted in the upcoming songs. Lesson one included four performances. Opening this lesson was a quartet of four male RC students singing “Noel”. These soloists were Jacob Friedrich, Cole Tankersley, Brian Kerr, and Mars Woddail. After the solo was finished, the RC Choir broke into a sweet rendition of “Ab Oriente Venerunt Magi,” followed by a striking performance of “A Message So Great, A Baby So Small.”
The Oriana Singers and RCC switched out for the first time with the start of the ever popular “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Once again the audience was asked to sing along with the lyrics printed in their programs and the Oriana Singer walked up the side aisles and filed onto the stage. The second Lesson was introduced to the audiences and consisted of three songs. Oriana filled the church with an angelic sound as they performed “Ave Maria,” “Hallelu,” and ended Lesson two with “On This Day.”
Lesson three was Oriana’s last Lesson and also included three songs. To open up this lesson, the singers performed a soft version of “O My Dear Heart” and paused for a solo set up at the end for the next song. “Gesu Bambino” was the second song in Lesson three and featured two soloists accompanied by the Oriana Singers. At the 3pm performance, the two soloists were Sarah Diaz (soprano), and Logan Stugart (tenor). The 5pm performance featured Amaranth Weiss (soprano) and Jacob Friedrich (tenor). Both performances were some of the most powerful of the night. The last song performed by Oriana was “So Faire and Bright,” which was a beautiful end to their performance.
At the end of Lesson Three, the choirs took a short break for an offertory to be passed around and for RCC to get back on stage. They concluded the performances with Lessons Four through seven. Lesson four had two carols: “Suo Gan,” and “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day.” The next Lesson, five, also had two songs, but included perhaps the most fun carol of the night. The RCC performed “Fum, Fum, Fum” as part of Lesson Five and had the audience nodding their heads and bouncing in their seats to the lively song. Lessons six and seven were one song each and were more popular to the general public. Lesson Six was a performance of “Angels We Have Heard on High,” followed by Lesson Seven. The seventh lesson once again called for a congregational carol of “Joy to the World” in which the RC Choir filed off stage right after.
The next performance for the Roanoke College Choir will be on Dec. 19, as the perform Handel’s Messiah (Part 1) at 8p.m at the St. Andrews Catholic Church. Tickets for this event are available to purchase online at www.roanoke.edu/messiah. They are $15 for students and $25 for general admission.