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1954: A Festival of Lessons and Carols

Digitally remastered version of the first ever Carols from King's College chapel from 1954, giving today's audience a glimpse into the beginnings of this Christmas institution.

Over 60 years ago, the BBC broadcast the first Carols from King's live from the world-famous chapel of the Cambridge university college. The transmission took place at eight o'clock on the evening of December 23rd, sandwiched between the news and an edition of Sportsview in which Brian Johnston reported on England's ultimately successful Ashes tour.

But the 44-minute recital was also recorded and has now been digitally remastered to offer today's audience a unique glimpse into the beginnings of this Christmas institution. Led by the organist and director of music Boris Ord, the concert opens with the now traditional solo of Once in Royal David's City and includes In Dulce Jubilo and While Shepherds Watched, before the equally familiar closing anthem of O Come All Ye Faithful.

50 minutes

Last on

Christmas Day 2015 02:35

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:02

    Henry Gauntlett

    Once In Royal David's City 

    Lyricist: Cecil Alexander. Choir: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.
  • 00:07

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Invitatory From Christmas Oratorio 

    Choir: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.
  • 00:12

    Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

    Ding-dong, Ding 

    Swedish, Piae Cantiones (1582) 

  • 00:14

    Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

    In Dulci Jubilo 

    Music Arranger: Robert Lucas Pearsall.

    14th Century German 

  • 00:18

    Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

    Hail! Blessed Virgin Mary 

    Music Arranger: C Wood.

    Italian 1689 

  • 00:22

    Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

    A Virgin Most Pure 

  • 00:26

    Thomas East

    While Shepherd's Watched 

    Lyricist: Nahum Tate. Choir: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.
  • 00:31

    Peter Cornelius

    The Three Kings 

    Choir: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.
  • 00:33

    Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

    The Infant King 

  • 00:39

    Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

    O Come All Ye Faithful 

Credits

Role Contributor
Producer Berkeley Smith
Conductor Boris Ord

Broadcasts

BBC Radio 4: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

BBC Radio 4: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Atmospheric coverage of the annual festival from King's College, Cambridge