After a couple good years of early PDF release online, the King's College site has not delivered the goods we were hoping for this year . . . yet.
That being said, there's no time like the present for idle speculation.
We at Sinden.org predict the following:
The service will begin with "Once in Royal David's City", just as it has since 1918. (odds: 4,328,752 to 1)
The Peter Warlock setting of "Adam lay ybounden" will be the second carol after the First Lesson. A setting of this text has occupied this position every year since 1998. Since 2001, the settings have alternated between Warlock and Boris Ord. If the pattern holds, 2008 would appear to be a Warlock year.
Pearsall's "In dulci jubilo" will follow the Second Lesson most likely as the second carol. We could be wrong on this, but a setting of this text has been sung after the Second Lesson in seven out of the past eleven services (63.6% of the time). Six of those (85.7%) been composed by R. L. de Pearsall; the remaining setting was by Michael Praetorius.
Other possible locations for "In dulci jubilo" would be after Eric Milner-White's bidding prayer, the Third Lesson, or the Sixth Lesson.
After the third lesson will be sung the hymn "Unto us is born a Son". Starting in 1999 Stephen Cleobury seems to have begun a three-year pattern of hymns at this point, the other two hymns being "It came upon a midnight clear" and "O little town of Bethlehem". This year, the cycle begins again at the beginning. Or, if this trend was a coincidence, we may have no idea what we're talking about.
There's a good bet that Howells's "A spotless Rose" will make an appearance after the Fourth Lesson. The piece last appeared in 2005. Although a three-year "spotlessless" interval would not be unheard of as one occurred from 2002-2004.
A carol mentioning "rose" in the first line has been included at this point in the service at every service in recent memory, including an "A spotless Rose" setting by Philip Ledger, a former Director of Music at King's.
Notably, this Howells carol-anthem is the only one his his to appear in the service recently. The other two Howells has composed are "Here is the little Door" and "Sing lullaby".
The commissioned carol, by Dominic Muldowney, will likely follow the Fifth Lesson, as we have previously reported.
The carols after the Sixth Lesson seem to have the most variability. In the past eleven years, only one carol has been repeated, Roxanna Panufnik's "Sleep little Jesus".
After the the Seventh Lesson, the hymn will likely be "God rest ye merry, Gentlemen", but it could also be "While shepherds watched their flocks by night". We find the latter choir unlikely since it would mark the fourth year in a row this hymn would be sung. These two hymns seem to be the only two possibilities at this point.
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