Tuesday, 16 October 2018

100 years of Nine Lessons & Carols

100 Years of Nine Lessons & Carols
On Christmas Eve 1918, King's College Chapel introduced a new service which aimed to bring a more imaginative approach to worship, combining popular and lesser known carols with Bible readings which told the Christmas story. A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was first broadcast in 1928 and the service has now become a staple part of Christmas in the UK and elsewhere, watched and listened to by many for whom this will be the only religious aspect of Christmas. A feature of the service has been the remarkable sequence of Christmas carols commissioned by contemporary composers.

The format of the Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols was developed at Truro Cathedral, starting in 1878 and reaching fully developed form in 1880.  It was introduced at King's by the Dean of the College, Eric Milner-White whose experiences as an Army chaplain led him to want to introduce a more imaginative approach to worship, and the Truro liturgy was adapted for King's

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, conductor Stephen Cleobury, is issuing a two disc set celebrating the centenary of the iconic service. The disc will include new recordings of sixteen iconic carols, forming a fitting tribute to Cleobury who has been at the helm of the choir since 1983 and who steps down next year. But the first disc of the set is devoted to a fascinating sequence of historic recordings, extracts from services conducted by Sir David Willcocks (1958 & 1963) and Philip Ledger (1978 & 1980), and recordings by Cleobury and the choir from 1985 to 2017, including the premieres of carols by Judith Weir, Thomas Ades, Michael Berkeley and Huw Watkins.

100 Years of Nine Lessons & Carols will be released on 9 November 2018.

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