Music Notes Lessons and Carols

Making Musical Memories: A Birmingham-Southern College Christmas Tradition

Music Notes


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As the holidays grow nearer, I’m sure memories of family holiday traditions come to mind for many. The Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) choral experience has been a life-long, life-changing experience for me, as I’m certain it has for many – those who have participated in BSC’s choral groups and all those who have been fortunate enough to enjoy their performances. For over 50 years, I have attended as a listener or participated in the BSC Annual Service of Lessons and Carols. As a child, I remember the familiar carols sung by the choir directed by the renowned Dr. Hugh Thomas and the hymns majestically led by organist extraordinaire, Dr. James H. Cook. When the service lasted longer than my attention span as a small child, I recall lying on the pew with my head on my mother’s lap as Christmas music echoed through the lofty rafters of McCoy Methodist Church next to BSC’s campus.

Music Notes Lessons and Carols
Leon and Kathryn Waters BSC Class of 1958 with son Thomas Class of 1986 at the Annual Service of Lessons and Carols.

In 1978, my parents Leon and Kathryn Waters began a tradition in my family that still continues. They joined with other alumni of BSC to form the BSC Alumni Choir. Dr. Thomas directed the choir until he passed away, at which time his son, Tim Thomas assumed the role. Currently, the choir is led by Dr. Lester Seigel, the Joseph Hugh Thomas Professor of Music at BSC. Under Dr. Seigel’s direction, three generations of my family have participated.

While my wife and I knew one another as students at BSC, we reconnected after the 1988 service. We were married in 1990, and we speak often of how the carol service brought us together. Our daughters, Mary Kate who graduated from BSC in 2015 and Martha Louise who started her freshman year this fall, also share this beautiful musical experience. My sister Valerie Waters also was a member of the BSC Concert Choir when she attended BSC!

Music Notes Birmingham Southern Logo Thomas WatersThe Birmingham-Southern educational and musical experience is a part of our family. The BSC Choirs Annual Service of Lessons and Carols is a family tradition that serves as the start of our holidays each year. The Waters’ family welcomes the opportunity to share the gift of musical hospitality to you this Christmas season. Please join Dr. Seigel and the Birmingham-Southern Choirs at this year’s concert at Canterbury United Methodist Church on Friday, December 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 8 at 4:30 p.m. for the 83rd Annual Service of Lessons and Carols. We hope you leave the service with the Joy of the season in your heart! Merry Christmas from the Waters Family and Birmingham-Southern College.

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