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Nine Lessons and Carols


Nine Lessons and Carols

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The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a format of Christian worship service celebrating the birth of Jesus and traditionally followed at Christmas. The story of the fall of man, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus is told in nine short Bible readings, interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols and hymns.

The format was based on an Order drawn up by E.W. Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury, for Christmas Eve 1880 in Truro. It has since been adapted and used by other churches all over the world. In the UK, the service has become the standard format for schools' Christmas carol services.

The most famous version is broadcast annually from King's College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve featuring carols by the famous Choir.


King's College, Cambridge

The first Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in King's College, Cambridge was conceived by Eric Milner-White and held on Christmas Eve in 1918. The format did not differ substantially from the one known today. The service was first broadcast on the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1928, and since the early 1930s has been broadcast live to many parts of the world on the BBC Overseas Service, as well as domestically on the Radio 4. It is estimated that each year there are millions of listeners worldwide. There is also a television broadcast in the UK (on BBC channels Two and Four), although that is pre-recorded in early or mid-December.

The service traditionally begins with the hymn Once in Royal David's City, with the first verse sung unaccompanied by a solo boy chorister, and ends with the hymn Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. The lessons are read by representatives of the college and of the City of Cambridge. The singing is divided into "carols", which are sung by the choir, and "hymns", sung by choir and congregation. Since 1982 the current Director of Music, Stephen Cleobury, has commissioned a new carol on behalf of the College for the Choir.

Order of Service

The Order of Service at King's College is always the sameóthe only thing that changes are which carols the choir sings, although some music is repeated from year to year. The following is from the service in 2005.

  • Organ Prelude
    Processional Hymn: Once in Royal David's City
    Bidding Prayer
    Carol: "What sweeter music" John Rutter
    First Lesson from Genesis 3
    Carol: Remember, O thou man Thomas Ravenscroft
    Carol: Adam lay ybounden Boris Ord
    Second Lesson from Genesis 22
    Anthem: God so loved the world John Stainer
    Carol: In dulci jubilo arr. Robert Lucas de Pearsall
    Third Lesson from Isaiah 9
    Carol: Sussex Carol arr. Phillip Ledger
    Hymn: Unto us is born a son
    Fourth Lesson from Isaiah 11
    Carol: A tender shoot Otto Goldschmidt
    Carol: A spotless rose Herbert Howells
    Fifth Lesson from Luke 1
    Carol: Edi beo thu, Heuene Quene 13th century traditional
    Carol: Benedicamus Domino Peter Warlock
    Sixth Lesson from Luke 2
    Carol: Sweet was the song the Virgin sang Richard Blackford
    Carol: Tomorrow shall be my dancing day John Gardner
    Seventh Lesson from Luke 2
    Carol: Away in a manger John Tavener
    Hymn: While shepherds watched their flocks by night
    Eighth Lesson from Matthew 2
    Carol: Riu, riu, Chiu Mateo Fletcher the elder
    Carol: Be merry Stephen Cleobury
    Ninth Lesson from John 1
    Chorale: Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her Johann Sebastian Bach
    Hymn: O Come, All Ye Faithful
    Collect & Blessing
    Hymn: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
    Organ Postlude

External link

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Christmas Guide, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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