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All Saints Anglican Church presents a "Nine Lessons and Carols" service this weekend

The Choir of Springfield's All Saints Anglican Church will present a Christmas "Nine Lessons and Carols" service Sunday December 18 at 10:45am.
Photo courtesy All Saints Anglican Church, Springfield MO
The Choir of Springfield's All Saints Anglican Church will present a Christmas "Nine Lessons and Carols" service Sunday, December 18 at 10:45am.

The Christmastime 'Lessons and Carols' service takes place Sunday, December 18, at 10:45 a.m. at All Saints.

KSMU listeners have heard interviews on “Arts News” with Lindsey Robison since, he estimates, at least 1990 or 1992.

Most of these have dealt with his activities as founder and director of Messiah Project, Inc. But this morning he came to KSMU to talk about a Christmas concert by the Choir of All Saints Anglican Church in Springfield, of which he is a member. We were hoping to have the choir’s director, Dr. Heather Nelson, with us, but she wasn’t able to make it to the station.

Let me say a few things about Dr. Heather Nelson,” says Robison. “I've worked with her for maybe ten years or so. She's a very accomplished choral director, and she actually accompanied Messiah Project on our Mongolian tour. She helped us direct the Mongolian singers and the American singers. So it was quite an adventure. But Heather has done an excellent job of selecting music for the concert that will be at All Saints Anglican Church, at 2751 East Galloway here in Springfield, and the service is Sunday, December 18 at 10:45 a.m.”

What makes this particular Christmas concert and church service unique, says Lindsey Robison, is that it harks back to a tradition in the Anglican church that started in 1880: the Lessons and Carols service.

“There are nine (spoken-word) ‘Lessons,'" he says, "and we celebrate music everywhere from 1880 to—we’re actually doing an African piece, ‘Bethlehem Mu,’ which you hear every time you go to a high school or college.”

The concert will also include instrumentalists including a pianist, flutist and drummer, along with the organist at All Saints, Mark Bowdidge. The vocal ensemble will include about a dozen singers, and there will of course be the “Lessons."

They consist of "Scripture-reading to remind us of the story of Christmas,” Robison says. And he says “there will be plenty of opportunity for the congregation to join in singing familiar Christmas music.”

The tradition of Lessons and Carols services is often associated with the famous British choral college King's College, Cambridge, but the practice seems to have originated in 1880 at Truro Cathedral in Cornwall.

Robison encouraged interested persons to “come kind of early to get a (good) seat. We’ve been telling a lot of people. But there is an overflow (area), so there will be plenty of space for everybody, and it’ll be a nice time for the family.”

For information, call All Saints Anglican Church at 417-888-3001 or visit

While he was here, I asked Robison to catch us up on the activities of his own group, Messiah Project, which performs concerts of religious, patriotic and classical music both here and abroad — or, at least, they did before COVID hit in 2000.

“Well, with the COVID thing,” he says, “we've been kind of tethered to the United States. We've had concerts — we've had our ‘Heritage of Hymns’ concerts in the fall. We will have two possible concerts in the spring. And then we're looking at possible tours into Japan. And I have a wonderful music director in Moldova. He was actually the conductor that conducted our concert in the Kremlin in Moscow. And through the years he's kind of migrated back to Moldova. So we've got a lot of things in the pipeline.”

Messiah Project is also heavily involved every year in the large hand-painted nativity scenes visible outside area McDonald’s restaurants, not just in Springfield, Ozark and Nixa, but also as far afield as Marshfield, Mount Vernon and Bolivar.

“They’re hand-painted, every single one of them,” says Robison. “And there are, I’ve been trying to count, up to maybe 400 what I call ‘characters’ representing the Christmas story, in all these scenes around the area. It's quite unique. We say it's the only place on planet Earth where McDonald's restaurants will sponsor nativity scenes. So we had our hats off to the McDonald's owners here in Springfield for helping sponsor it — they're very supportive of the of the ministry and keeping this ‘reason for the season’ (message) out there.”

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning Arts News. Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's Ozzie Award in 2006.