Lessons & Carols: A Groton Tradition

Adjacent to the doorway of the Chapel, I fiddle with my red tie as students begin to flow in. The boys—clad in sport coats and khakis—and the girls—dressed in skirts and sweaters—take their seats. Having (literally) just run over from our hockey team’s 4-3 victory over Andover, I am a bit out of breath, but excitedly anticipating my reading. I retie my shoes—once and then twice—and afterwards peruse the Lessons & Carols program. As I prepare to recite the fourth lesson—a reading from Isaiah—the orchestra starts to play. The audience quiets down, and following the performance, the members of the orchestra vacate the front of the Chapel to find their places among the pews. “Here we go,” Mr. Birney, our chaplain, whispers. “Are you ready?” I smile. “Let’s do this.”

Lining up behind the choir, I join the procession and pair up with Lucy ’20. Together, we stride down the Chapel’s central aisle and sit in the front row. Mr. Birney commences the evening’s events—addressing the expectant crowd—and soon afterward, the choir opens with another song. The next thirty-five minutes progress rapidly as Jeremy ’24, Riya ’23, and Aine ’22—the first three readers—all deliver their lessons. Suddenly, my turn to stand at the podium arrives. Straightening my tie one last time, I carefully climb the stairs and gaze out at the audience. Examining my lesson, I clear my breath, smile, and address the crowd.

Since 1928, Lessons and Carols has been a fundamental part of the Groton Christmas tradition. On Tuesday, December 17, the entire student body assembled in the Chapel to listen to the orchestra, the choir, and the readers’ nine lessons. A festive way to celebrate and commemorate the holidays, the event unites the community before we head home for winter break.