Nine Lessons and Carols

Festival of Nine Lessons and CarolsFestival of Lessons and CarolsLessons and CarolsAdvent Carol service of King's CollegeCarols from St George's Cathedral 2009Service of Nine Lessons and CarolsThe Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a service of Christian worship, traditionally celebrated on Christmas Eve.wikipedia
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Choir of King's College, Cambridge

King's College ChoirChoir of King's CollegeKing's College, Cambridge
It features carols sung by the famous Choir of King's College.
Today the choir is directed by Stephen Cleobury and derives much of its fame from the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, broadcast worldwide to millions on Christmas Eve every year, and the TV service Carols from King's which accompanies it. The choir commissions a carol from a contemporary composer for each year's Festival.

King's College, Cambridge

King's CollegeKingKing’s College
The best-known version is broadcast annually from King's College, Cambridge, on Christmas Eve.
Every year on Christmas Eve the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols (a service devised specifically for King's by college dean Eric Milner-White) is broadcast from the chapel to millions of listeners worldwide.

Truro Cathedral

TruroCathedral at Trurocathedral
In 1878 the Royal Cornwall Gazette reported that the choir of Truro Cathedral would sing a service of carols at 10:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
It was in this building that Benson introduced the new evening service of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve, 1880.

Christmas Eve

December 2424 DecemberEve of Nativity
The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a service of Christian worship, traditionally celebrated on Christmas Eve. Two years later, Edward White Benson, at that time Bishop of Truro in Cornwall but later Archbishop of Canterbury, formalised the service with Nine Lessons for use on Christmas Eve (24 December) 1880.
The annual "Nine Lessons and Carols", broadcast from King's College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve, has established itself a Christmas custom in the United Kingdom.

Christmas carol

carolcarolscarol singing
The story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus is told in nine short Bible readings or lessons from Genesis, the prophetic books and the Gospels, interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols, hymns and choir anthems.
Singing carols in church was instituted on Christmas Eve 1880 in Truro Cathedral, Cornwall, (see article on Nine Lessons and Carols), and now seen in churches all over the world.

Somerset Walpole

G.H.S. WalpoleGeorge Walpole
The order of service was adapted from the order created by Benson for Truro Cathedral 38 years earlier, which was based on an idea of George Walpole, at the time Succentor of Truro Cathedral, and the future Bishop of Edinburgh.
Benson agreed, and drew up an order of service of nine lessons and carols, which was later taken up by cathedrals and parish churches all round the world.

David Willcocks

Sir David WillcocksDavid Valentine WillcocksDavid V. Willcocks
Hymn: "Unto Us is Born a Son" – words, 15th-century Latin, translated by G.R. Woodward; music from Piae Cantiones arranged by David V. Willcocks
Several of the descants and carol arrangements he wrote for the annual service of Nine Lessons and Carols were published in the series of books Carols for Choirs which he edited along with Reginald Jacques and John Rutter.

Edward White Benson

Edward BensonArchbishop BensonArchbishop of Canterbury
Two years later, Edward White Benson, at that time Bishop of Truro in Cornwall but later Archbishop of Canterbury, formalised the service with Nine Lessons for use on Christmas Eve (24 December) 1880.
Benson is best remembered for devising the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, an order first used in Truro Cathedral on Christmas Eve, 1880.

In dulci jubilo

4947Good Christian KingsGood Christians All, Rejoice
Carol: "In Dulci Jubilo" – words, 14th-century German; music by Hieronymus Praetorius
Subsequent translations into English, such as J.M. Neale's arrangement "Good Christian Men, Rejoice" have increased its popularity, and Robert Pearsall's 1837 macaronic translation is a mainstay of the Christmas Nine Lessons and Carols repertoire.

Eric Milner-White

Eric Milner Milner-White
It was introduced by Eric Milner-White, the Dean of the College, whose experience as an army chaplain had led him to believe that more imaginative worship was needed by the Church of England.
During his time at King's College, Milner-White introduced the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols.

Once in Royal David's City

The order of the lessons was revised in 1919, and since that time the service has always begun with the hymn "Once in Royal David's City".
Since 1919, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at the King's College Chapel Cambridge has begun its Christmas Eve service, with Dr Arthur Henry Mann's arrangement of "Once in Royal David's City" as the Processional hymn.

Anglicanism

AnglicandivineAnglicans
Lessons and Carols most often occur in Anglican churches.
By the 20th century, the choral tradition had become for many the most accessible face of worldwide Anglicanism – especially as promoted through the regular broadcasting of choral evensong by the BBC; and also in the annual televising of the festival of Nine lessons and carols from King's College, Cambridge.

National Recording Registry

United States National Recording RegistryLibrary of Congress's National Recording Registry2006 entry
In the US, a 1954 service was put into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2008.

Philip Ledger

Sir Philip LedgerPhilip Stevens LedgerPhilip S. Ledger
Carol: "Angels from the Realms of Glory" – words by James Montgomery; music, old French tune arranged by Philip S. Ledger
During his years in Cambridge, he directed the Choir of King’s College in the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, made an extensive range of recordings and took the choir to the United States, Australia, and Japan for the first time.

The Lamb (Tavener)

The Lambset to musicThe Lamb'' (Tavener)
Carol: "The Lamb" – words by William Blake; music by John Tavener
The Lamb was performed shortly after its composition at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in Kings College Chapel, Cambridge on Christmas Eve 1982.

E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come

Some services have also included anthems between the carols and hymns, such as a performance of "E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come" in 2004.
The piece is often performed in choral settings, and has been performed publicly as early as 1974; it was featured at the Nine Lessons and Carols by King's College Choir and has been performed by many other choral groups for similar Christmas and other services.

Bidding-prayer

Bidding Prayerbidding prayers
Bidding Prayer
A bidding prayer is offered at the beginning of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols observed at King's College, Cambridge University, on Christmas Eve; this prayer, whose text has remained largely unaltered since the Festival's inception in 1918, has been heard annually in radio broadcasts of the Festival since the 1930s.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark the Herald Angels SingcarolHark
The service ends with the hymn "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing".
For many years it has served as the recessional hymn of the annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College Chapel, Cambridge.

Arthur Henry Mann

The music at the first service at King's was directed by Arthur Henry Mann, who was the organist from 1876 to 1929.
In 1918 he directed the music and the first service of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College Chapel.

Boris Ord

Ord''', Boris
Carol: "Adam lay ybounden" – words, 15th century; music by Boris Ord
His setting of Adam lay ybounden, his only published piece of music, was once a fixture in the order of service of the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's.

Richard Rodney Bennett

BennettRichard BennettSir Richard Rodney Bennett
On Christmas Day to My Heart, written in 1998 for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College Chapel, Cambridge in 1999.

Adam lay ybounden

Adam lay i-bowndyn
Carol: "Adam lay ybounden" – words, 15th century; music by Boris Ord
Boris Ord's setting is probably the best-known version as a result of its traditional performance following the First Lesson at the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at the chapel of King's College, Cambridge, where Ord was organist from 1929 to 1957.

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O Come All Ye FaithfulAdeste FidelesAdeste Fideles (O Come, All Ye Faithful)
Hymn: "O Come, All Ye Faithful" ("Adeste Fideles") – words, 18th-century Latin, translated by Frederick Oakeley; melody by John Francis Wade, arranged by Stephen Cleobury
This carol has served as the penultimate hymn sung at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, after the last lesson from Chapter 1 of the Gospel of John.

Stephen Plaice

Plaice also wrote the text for Birtwistle's carol The Gleam for the choir of Kings College Cambridge for The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in 2003.

In the Bleak Midwinter

I en steingrå vinter (In The Bleak Midwinter)
This version is favoured by cathedral choirs, and is the one usually heard performed on the radio broadcasts of Nine Lessons and Carols by the King's College Choir.