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A Festival of Nine Lessons and CarolsA Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
Presented on WGUC 90.9 FM
Live Broadcast: December 24 at 10:00 AM
Rebroadcast: December 25 at 6:00 PM

A holiday tradition continues on WGUC with the presentation of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from the chapel of King’s College in Cambridge, England.

This Christmas Eve celebration is performed by the 30-voice King’s College Choir, comprised of 16 choristers, who are educated on scholarship at King’s College School, and 14 choral scholars who study a wide variety of subjects at the College. The Choir was created by King Henry VI who wanted daily singing of church services in the chapel at King’s College. These daily services remain the focal point of the Choir, but they have garnered international acclaim for their holiday presentation.

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was first held on Christmas Eve in 1918. Eric Milner-White, the recently appointed Dean of King’s, had just completed service as an army chaplain and was convinced the Church of England needed more imaginative worship. He adapted the Festival from an Order drawn up in 1880 by a future Archbishop of Canterbury for use on Christmas Eve in a wooden shed that served as his cathedral. That service was arranged from ancient sources and featured nine carols and nine lessons read by officers of the church. Today’s presentation features members of the King’s College community presenting the lessons, intertwined with the choral renditions of both traditional and more recent carols. The service begins with a boy soprano singing the opening line to “Once in Royal David’s City.” The tradition began in 1919 and has grown into a symbol that signals the time has come to set aside the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and to settle in with family to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

The Festival, which has been adapted by many other churches over the years, was first broadcast in 1928 and, with the exception of 1930, it has been broadcast annually, even during World War II when the ancient glass of the chapel was removed for safekeeping, allowing all the heat of the building escape. The BBC began broadcasting the service overseas in the early 1930’s and estimates are that there are now millions of regular listeners each year. The service has also been filmed on occasion for television broadcast, and recordings have been released on the Decca and EMI labels.

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is presented each year from the King’s College Chapel, located on the school’s campus in Cambridge. The chapel took more than a century to construct and was completed in 1547, although there is continuing research into the details of the building process. To learn more about King’s College and for a virtual tour of the chapel, you can visit www.kings.cam.ac.uk.

90.9 WGUC is again proud to present A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College. The service will be broadcast live on December 24 at 10:00 a.m. and will be rebroadcast on Christmas Day at 6 p.m.


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