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Once in Royal David's City

The stories of the choir boys who begin the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols with the iconic Once In Royals David's City

No carol encapsulates the beginning of Christmas like ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ which every Christmas Eve opens the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, in the candlelit Chapel of King's College, Cambridge. Around the globe, listeners to the BBC World Service tune into the service every year.

This is a story of last minute anticipation, as three or four boys are traditionally put on standby, and at the last moment one is chosen to sing the famous carol.

Its opening bars are part of Christmas for millions of people wherever they are in the world, who won't know that the chorister singing, unaccompanied, this famous carol was chosen for the role just minutes before

Programme Introduced by Richard Gowers
Producer: Helen Lee

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