Listen: 'A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols'


December 24, 2019

An annual and beloved Christmas tradition, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is an extraordinary and memorable live service of words and music from the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge, England.

Audiences share in a live, worldwide Christmas Eve broadcast of a service of biblical readings, carols and related seasonal music (anthems a cappella and with organ accompaniment, and congregational hymns), presented by one of the world's foremost choirs of men and boys (directed by Daniel Hyde), and performed in an acoustically and architecturally renowned venue.

While another wonderful broadcast of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols has come and gone, you can still listen to the BBC's archived audio while it's available. Listen by scrolling down on the window below and clicking on the big play button.

If you have trouble playing through the window above, visit the BBC's website and try there.

Program booklet

Here is the program for this year's A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols service. Follow along below, or you may download the booklet.

This year's national broadcast of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is made possible by generous support from the Hognander Family Foundation.

More from King's College

There are two new audio and video recordings for fans who want to experience more of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols and the Choir at King's College.

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols: The Centenary Service presents 2018's 100th-anniversary service, recorded live and presented in 5.1 surround sound in the SACD format or high-definition stereo in the standard CD format, and includes a 50-page booklet. The service marked the last time that longtime director Stephen Cleobury, who died in November, led the choir on Christmas Eve.

Also available (as of 1 p.m. central time on Christmas Eve; preorder now) is a high-definition video download of Carols From King's, featuring the Choir of King's College, directed by Daniel Hyde. Recorded at a Dec. 15 service by the BBC, the video features the choir singing carols while the Christmas story is told.

40th anniversary U.S. broadcast

In 1979, the headlines were about hostages in Iran, Three Mile Island, disco and Dallas, the Walkman and The Waltons. Meanwhile, MPR's program director, Nick Nash, made news by fulfilling a broadcaster's dream: bringing a British Christmas tradition to U.S. public radio listeners for the first time: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge. The service celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. This year, John Birge celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first U.S. broadcast by getting the story from the man who made it happen — no easy feat in an analog world!

LISTEN — Nick Nash on 'A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols'

Further resources

Stephen Cleobury: A tribute from Michael Barone

Listen: Choral Stream tribute to Stephen Cleobury

Listen: Choir of King's College at the Cathedral of St. Paul

New Classical Tracks: Stephen Cleobury's final U.S. tour with the Choir of King's College

Watch: Choir of King's College performs Stephen Paulus' 'The Road Home'