Celebrate Christmas with BBC Religion & Ethics
BBC Religion & Ethics
celebrates the festive season and reflects on the message of Christmas.
Across radio and television there are traditional services and favourite
carols, with music from the celebrated composer John Rutter and from
the world-famous choir of King's College, Cambridge.
Special editions of regular favourites such as Songs of Praise and
Good Morning Sunday also offer the opportunity for reflection and celebration
at this special time of year.
BBC Radio explores the Christmas story and how it is
celebrated throughout the world.
Presented by actress Fiona Shaw, Mary Mary
(Radio 2) traces the appeal of the Virgin Mary.
Talking to biblical scholars, historians and religious
leaders, Fiona tries to piece together what she would have been like
and how she would have lived.
She discovers that Mary is also one of the major figures
revered in Islam and asks if Mary could be a unifying force between
the world's two major faiths.
In Christmas in Bethlehem (Radio 4), Libby
Purves and guests discover how Christmas is celebrated in Bethlehems
all over the world.
Actress Sian Phillips and poet John Hegley
join Libby in Bethlehem, South Wales.
Counting down to Christmas, the Bishop of Liverpool
the Rt Rev James Jones leads live worship programmes for the season
In Down to Earth (BBC ONE) he explores the theme
of ecology and the environment from a theological perspective, looking
at the connections between the gospels and the earth.
On Christmas Eve, the BBC joins the congregation to
celebrate Midnight Mass live from Saint George's Roman Catholic
Cathedral, Southwark (BBC ONE) and St. Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham
The Christmas Day Service, Crackers for Christmas
(BBC ONE), comes live from Methodist Central Hall in Coventry.
Celebrating Christmas with a selection of well loved
carols, John Rutter directs the South Bank Sinfonia and Pegasus
in Radio 4's Christmas Morning Service.
The service, from St Mary, Islington, is led by the
Bishop of Stepney the Rt Rev Stephen Oliver and features the
Rev Colin Morris reflecting on the significance of "the
Word made Flesh".
50 years after its first televised recording, Carols
from King's (BBC TWO) tells the Christmas story afresh in music
The world-famous choir of King's College, led by Stephen
Cleobury, performs popular carols such as Once in Royal David's City
and O Come All Ye Faithful.
The traditional Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
(Radio 4) also welcomes in Christmas for radio listeners throughout
The choristers perform traditional favourites and specially
commissioned carols including God would be Born in Thee by Judith Bingham
and Starry Night o'er Bethlehem by David Willcocks.
The musical celebrations continue with another long-running
favourite, Songs of Praise (BBC ONE).
Jonathan Edwards introduces carols by candlelight
from Ely Cathedral and actor David Suchet reads the story of
Renowned for his love of pop hits, Pete Waterman
is also passionate about hymns and carols.
In the final Songs of Praise of the year, he
introduces his choice of Christmas carols and takes a festive trip back
in time to look at Christmas customs just before the First World War.
A Seaside Parish returns to BBC TWO over the
festive period with an hour-long special to mark the start of the new
This year, Boscastle became headline news when a devastating
flood swept through the town, destroying all in its path.
But, at the start of the year, the Rev Christine
Musser and her parishioners could have no idea of the disaster that
would engulf this sleepy seaside village.
The first episode of the new series revisits Boscastle
and its residents in the months running up to that fateful day.
Other radio highlights include the Christmas Meditation
(Radio 4) from the Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Andrew's and Edinburgh,
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, and Belief (Radio 3) in which Joan
Bakewell explores the influences that have shaped her guests.
Joan talks to the Bishop of Durham Tom Wright,
writer Hanif Kureishi, poet Debjani Chatterjee, writer
Howard Jacobson and Muslim commentator Ziauddin Sardar.
On Christmas morning, the Rev Roger Royle is
joined by special guests and religious leaders in Good Morning Christmas
(Radio 2), whilst Don Maclean looks back at interviews with Archbishop
Desmond Tutu, Martin Bell, Lionel Richie and Sister Wendy Beckett as
he introduces The Best of Good Morning Sunday (Radio 2).
Celebrating St Stephen's Day from the Cathedral and
Abbey Church of St Alban, Hertfordshire, the Very Rev Jeffrey John leads
his first broadcast sermon since his appointment as the Dean of St
Albans in Sunday Worship (Radio 4).
And for Sunday Half Hour (Radio 2) Rev Roger
Royle is joined by 1,600 carol singers in the recently opened Sage Centre
Finally, bringing us into the New Year, The Archbishop
of Canterbury's New Year Message (BBC TWO; repeated BBC ONE) sees
Rowan Williams reflect on the year gone by and look forward to the challenges
of the year ahead.
Full details of all programmes, including transmission
times, are available at bbc.co.uk/advent.