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2011 Festival Of Nine Lessons And Carols

1 hour
First broadcast:
Saturday 24 December 2011

For many people around the world, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, from the candlelit chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, marks the beginning of Christmas. It is based around nine Bible readings which tell the story of the loving purposes of God. They are interspersed with carols old and new, sung by the world famous chapel choir who also lead the congregation in traditional Christmas hymns. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Once in royal David's city (descant Cleobury)
Bidding Prayer read by the Dean
I wonder as I wander (Rütti)
First lesson: Genesis 3, vv 8-19 read by a Chorister
Remember, O thou man (Ravenscroft)
Adam lay ybounden (Ord)
Second lesson: Genesis 22 vv 15-18 read by a Choral Scholar
Angels from the realms of glory (arr Jacques)
Riu, riu, chiu (Flecha)
Third lesson: Isaiah 9 vv 2, 6-7 read by a Member of College Staff
Nowell sing we now all and some (medieval)
Sussex Carol (arr Willcocks)
It came upon the midnight clear (descant Cleobury)
Fourth lesson: Isaiah 11 vv 1-3a, 4a, 6-9 read by a Representative of the City of Cambridge
A spotless rose (arr Ledger)
The Lamb (Tavener)
Fifth lesson: Luke 1 vv 26-35, 38 read by a Representative of Eton College
Blessed be that maid Mary (arr Cleobury)
Bogoróditse Dyévo (Pärt)
Sixth lesson: Luke 2 vv 1, 3-7 read by the Chaplain
Christmas Eve (Tansy Davies – first performance, commissioned by King’s College)
Sans Day Carol (arr Rutter)
Seventh lesson: Luke 2 vv 8-16 read by the Director of Music
The Shepherd’s Carol (Chilcott)
While shepherds watched (descant Cleobury)
Eighth lesson: Matthew 2 vv 1-12 read by the Vice-Provost
The Three Kings (Cornelius arr Atkins)
Illuminare, Jerusalem (Weir)
Ninth lesson: John 1 vv 1-14 read by the Provost
O come, all ye faithful (arr Willcocks)
Collect and Blessing
Hark! the herald angels sing (descant Willcocks)

Organ voluntary:
In dulci jubilo BWV 729 (Bach)

Director of Music: Stephen Cleobury
Organ Scholar: Ben-San Lau

Live broadcast:
Saturday 24th December, 15:00 GMT

Sunday 25th December
01:30 GMT (The Americas)
09:30 GMT (Australasia and East Asia)
10:30 GMT (East Africa)

If you have any comments or suggestions, please email: world.class@bbc.co.uk

  • New Carol for 2011

    New Carol for 2011

    The lessons and prayers in the service have undergone only small changes over the years but the music constantly evolves. 30 years ago, when conductor and organist Stephen Cleobury came to King's, he was keen to demonstrate a commitment to contemporary music for the College's liturgies. He decided that one way of doing this would be to commission a new carol each year for inclusion in the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols; thus a new tradition was born.

    This year’s commission is by the young British composer Tansy Davies. Christina Rossetti (1830-94) wrote the words for the much-loved carol 'In the Bleak Midwinter' but Tansy Davies uses a less famous poem of Rossetti's called 'Christmas Eve' for her new work:

    Christmas hath a darkness
    Brighter than the blazing noon,
    Christmas hath a chillness
    Warmer than the heat of June,
    Christmas hath a beauty
    Lovelier than the world can show:
    For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
    Brought for us so low.

    Earth, strike up your music,
    Birds that sing and bells that ring;
    Heaven hath answering music
    For all Angels soon to sing:
    Earth, put on your whitest
    Bridal robe of spotless snow:
    For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
    Brought for us so low.

    Christina Georgina Rossetti, written before 1886

    Tansy Davies


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