Easter 2024

13 December 2011
Nine Lessons and Carols - a Festival of, 2011 (preview)

Well, the results are in!

Today, Tuesday 13 December 2011 the service leaflet for this year's service was posted online. (Earlier the website read that the service leaflet was to be released the week commencing 12 December).

So, how did we do with our predictions?

The service will open with "Once in royal David's city". True (no points awarded)

Either Darke's "In the bleak midwinter" or Pearsall's "In dulci jubilo" will be heard as the Invitatory Carol. FALSE (-2 points, for two wrong guesses). The correct answer is: "I wonder as I wander" in the arrangement by Carl Rütti (b. 1949). This carol was last heard at this service as the second carol after the Second Lesson in 2006.

The first carol after the First lesson will be "Remember, O thou man" by Ravenscroft. True (+1 point; net score: -1).

The second carol after the First Lesson will be Peter Warlock's setting of "Adam lay ybounden". FALSE but it is Boris Ord's setting of this same text. (-.5 points; net score: -1.5). This means that for the past seven services it will be Ord's setting: 5; Ledger's setting: 1; Warlock's setting: 1. But there may be a pattern emerging, and I'm going to put all my money on a Warlock setting in 2012.

If it is not sung as the Invitatory, we will hear "In dulci jubilo" after the Second Lesson. FALSE (-1 point; net score: -2.5). Not even close. It's not sung in this year's service (it was last omitted in 2002).

The hymn after the Third Lesson will be "O little town of Bethlehem". FALSE (-1 point; net score: -3.5) "It came upon a midnight clear" was last sung in 2006 (just like the Rütti!).

After the Fourth Lesson: The Lamb by Tavener and "A spotless rose" by Howells. Nearly True (+1.5 points; net score -1). I've missed something in my calculations. Since 2002 Philip Ledger (Stephen Cleobury's predecessor as director of music at King's) has been represented by a carol every year. This year' it's his setting of "A spotless rose", not Howells's. I got the Tavener right.

My last two predictions were duds, but they were both a little out there. Final score: A for effort.

I think what is really remarkable about this year's service is a break in the pattern of Lesson, carol/hymn, carol/hymn. This year after the Third Lesson we get:

  1. Carol: Nowell sing we now all and some
  2. Carol: Sussex Carol - arr. Willcocks
  3. Hymn: It came upon a midnight clear.

I don't have records of there being three separate works between lessons. The closest parallel I've seen is the occasional carol after the Ninth Lesson before "O come all ye faithful".

You have to go back to 2002 to find "Angels from the realms", arr. Jaques, and one more year for Chilcott's The Shepherd's Carol.

"Riu, riu, chiu" makes its first appearance since 2005 after the Second Lesson.

It looks as if Cleobury's carol "Blessed be that maid" is a new arrangement.

The commissioned carol, "Christmas hath a darkness" by Tansy Davies, comes after the Sixth Lesson.

I find it hard to believe that Rutter's Sans Day Carol has never been a part of this service, but it seems as though it has not. And there it is after the commissioned carol.

The spreadsheet has been updated.

King's College Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols (1997-2011)

Hymns are yellow, "Adam lays" are green, "In duclis" are pink (the liturgical color for joy), Cleobury's carols are orange, Cornelius's "The Three Kings" are fuscia, "In the bleak midwinter" is gray (of course), the commissioned carol of the year is red, and carols commissioned for this service previously are marked with an asterisk.



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