The rhythms of life in a community are comforting and call to memory the same celebration in the years preceding; from small rhythms such as church on Sundays, to the more elaborate celebrations like Thanksgiving and Christmas that may entail a wider range of family and friends and span a few days. The Templeton Honors college intentionally provides rhythms for those within its community, ranging from small events like Honors Forums on Fridays, to the more intricate ceremony of Matriculation. As a demarcation of the semester’s end and the beginning of the Christmas season, the Lessons and Carols service is an integral part of the rhythm in the life of our community.
Taking root at Oxford in 1918, and later adapted by other institutions such as the Honors College, this humble service of nine small lessons and hymns celebrated its centennial year this past Christmas season. Templeton has kept true to the heart of the tradition while also adapting it to embody the spirit of the season in keeping with the character of the Honors College. In an effort to encourage communal service, the Templeton Chorale course was added to the curriculum. After practicing all semester, the freshman cohort serves the larger community by leading the carols each year. Both Dr. Ron Matthews and Dr. David Bryant have graciously taught and led this group over the years, offering their time and adroit musical ability.
Since it has been celebrated at the Honors College, this event is primarily one of communal gathering; particularly, it is one of the few events for which the majority of the current student body gathers together. Moreover, it is one of the events that the families of students attend. This allows students to meet their friends’ siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, and family friends. Knowledge of each other within the context of one’s family of origin allows for a fuller understanding and appreciation of the other. The communal roots of Lessons and Carols do not only span current students and their families but extend across the years as alumni return to St. Davids, often with new spouses and children to introduce.
Beyond simply gathering students, families, faculty, staff, and alumni in one place to worship together (as if that weren’t enough), the traditional Christmas party that follows allows the community the opportunity to move from a space of reverence, solemnity, and reflection to one of merriment, laughter, and the joy that proceeds from Dr. Cary exuberantly recounting the tale of the Grinch.
It is important to reflect on the traditions that shape such formative years as those of our undergraduate education, especially in a place as unique as Templeton. Our community is bound by the shared experience of traditions kept, joint worship offered, and laughter shared together. Thank you to all of those who made this year’s Lessons and Carols service possible. Looking forward to seeing many of you there next year!
Ben Reichner, Cohort of 2016, is a Templeton Scholar majoring in Social Work. Passionate about social justice, Ben also volunteered to help with our Summer Scholars program and is a Recruitment Assistant for the Honors College.