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The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, presents 'A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols,' under the direction of Daniel Hyde.
Keven Leighton

Listen now to 'A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols'

YourClassical MPR’s live broadcast of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge, with host Michael Barone, has ended. But you can relive this glorious event through on-demand audio, which is available through Jan. 23. Don’t forget to download the Order of Service for this year’s program below.

Since 1918, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols has offered listeners an opportunity to share in a live, worldwide Christmas Eve broadcast of a service of biblical readings, carols and related seasonal classical music. This special event is presented by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, one of the world’s foremost choirs of men and boys, and performed in an acoustically and architecturally renowned venue, the college’s 500-year-old chapel.

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

Order of Service

Here is the Order of Service for this year’s A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols program, provided by King’s College, Cambridge.

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols 2023 - Order of Service


Here is the program for this year’s A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols service. It includes the premiere of the newly commissioned carol “The Cradle,” composed by Cheryl Frances-Hoad from a setting of an English translation by Robert Graves of an anonymous 17th-century Austrian text — part of a King’s College carol commissioning program that goes back 40 years.

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

  • Hymn: “Once in Royal David's City” (Irby, descant Ledger)

  • Bidding Prayer (read by the dean)

  • Carol: “Out of Your Sleep” (Robin Nelson)

  • First lesson: Genesis 3:8-19 (read by a chorister)

  • Carol: “Adam Lay Ybounden” (Matthew Martin)

  • Second lesson: Genesis 22:15-19 (read by a college student)

  • Carol: “Illuminare Jerusalem” (Judith Weir)

  • Third lesson: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 (read by a member of college staff)

  • Carol: “O Radiant Dawn” (James MacMillan)

  • Hymn: “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (Forest Green, descant Armstrong)

  • Fourth lesson: Isaiah 11:1-9 (read by the master over the choristers)

  • Carol: “King Jesus Hath a Garden” (trad. Dutch arr. Wood, Cleobury)

  • Carol: “A Spotless Rose” (Philip Ledger)

  • Fifth lesson: Luke 1:26-38 (read by a fellow)

  • Carol: “Gabriel’s Message” (trad. Basque, arr. Willcocks)

  • Carol: “Hereford Carol” (arr. Robinson)

  • Sixth lesson: Luke 2:1-7 (read by the mayor of Cambridge)

  • Carol: “Sir Christemas” (Mathias)

  • Hymn: “The First Nowell” (arr. Willcocks)

  • Seventh lesson: Luke 2:8-20 (read by the director of music)

  • Carol: “The Cradle” (Cheryl Frances-Hoad) - 2023 commission

  • Eighth lesson: Matthew 2:1-12 (read by the vice-provost)

  • Carol: “All the Stars Looked Down” (John Rutter)

  • Carol: “Benedicamus Domino” (Warlock)

  • Ninth lesson: John 1:1-14 (read by the provost)

  • Hymn: “O Come, All Ye Faithful” (arr. Willcocks, Daniel Hyde)

  • Collect and Blessing

  • Hymn: “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” (Mendelssohn, arr. Willcocks)

Organ voluntaries

  • In Dulci Jubilo (Bach)

  • Dieu Parmi Nous (Messiaen)

Daniel Hyde, director of music
Paul Greally, organ scholar
Rev. Stephen Cherry, dean
Rev. Mary Kells, chaplain

Experience the magic

Find out why A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is such a treasured Christmas Eve tradition, including comments from our listeners, in the following series of videos.

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