Missouri Military Academy is set to host its 77th annual Evensong, a tradition its carried since 1941, not long after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Kevin Quinn, MMA development director and chaplain, said the event may attract a standing-room only audience.
This year’s service will be held 6 p.m. Saturday at Mexico United Methodist Church, 122 E. Promenade St. Evensong summarizes scripture from the proclamation of a messiah to Jesus’ birth. The first Evensong in 1941 was held in the school’s gymnasium. MMA started opening the event out more to the community in 2013 when the service traveled to churches in Mexico and Fulton. Previous Evensong hosts were First Presbyterian Church in Mexico and the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury on the Westminster College campus in Fulton.
“We change the music up each year, but all but one or two pieces of the program are done by cadets,” Quinn said. “We’ll have the cadet band and the cadet choir and they will do music interspersing the lesson readings.”
Quinn said this year’s lesson readers are students in a public speaking course at MMA, unlike past speakers. The first lesson looks at the temptation of Adam and the banishment from the Garden of Eden. The lesson readings then progress through the proclamation of the messiah through to the stories of Jesus’ birth in the books of Luke and John in the new testament.
“(Evensong) is one way for the community to see the very best of what our cadets are about,” Quinn said. “The entire corps of cadets will be there … in addition to parents, faculty and staff and people from the community.”
The Evensong service is based on the Festival of Lessons and Carols first held in 1918 at the King’s College Chapel at Cambridge University in England. According to the MMA website, the Mexico service was developed by Eric Milner-White, who was the dean of the college and was a former army chaplain.
“I would like to express our thanks to the Mexico United Methodist Church. They are allowing us to use their sanctuary for this event, and it really is a nice place for this program,” Quinn said.