Nine Lessons and Carols

This is the traditional pattern in Britain and elsewhere for a Carol Service. The basic template was laid down at King’s College, Cambridge, beginning in 1918. The Dean of King’s, Eric Milner-White, had been a chaplain in the army during World War I (which had ended a month earlier), and was seeking for a Christmas service that would appeal to more people (he based the service on one devised at Truro by Edward White Benson*, ca. 1880).The experiment of the 1918 service led to some changes in 1919, but since that time the format has remained remarkably constant. The service begins with the singing of ‘Once in royal David’s city’*, with the first verse sung by a treble soloist; the carols...

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