Easter 2024

11 December 2012
Nine Lessons and Carols - a Festival of, 2012 (preview)

Today, Tuesday 11 December 2012 the service leaflet for this year's service was posted online. Last year's leaflet was also released online about this time, Tuesday 13 December 2011.

The service will once again open with "Once in royal David's city".

We should have been more confident with our prediction that the Invitatory Carol would be "Up! good Christian folk and listen" by Woodward because it totally is that carol.

We missed the mark in regard to the first carol after the First Lesson. That carol is "This is the truth sent from above" by Ralph Vaughan Williams, which was last sung in 2010 as the Invitatory Carol. Before that, it was sung in this position in 2007.

Stephen Cleobury has thrown a curve ball with a setting of "Adam lay ybounden" by Christopher Brown, a new work first performed 9 December 2006 in Linton, Cambridgeshire. This is the first time in my records that the sung setting of this carol has been composed by someone other than Peter Warlock or a Director of Music at King's.

Philip Ledger, who died on 18 November is commemorated with two carols in this year's service: his arrangement of "Good Christian men, rejoice", and "A spotless rose". "Good Christian men, rejoice", sung after the Second Lesson, has not been previously sung at the service in this arrangement -- and we have not been aware of it before now. You can listen to a performance on the Christ's College, Cambridge recordings page. We had predicted that Pearsall's "In dulci jubilo" would be sung here, (the same tune. Likewise, we predicted Howells's a "A spotless rose" to be sung after the Fourth Lesson, the same position it held in last year's service. It returns, but in the exact same setting by Ledger. This carol was composed for the King's service in 2002, but it did not bear the distinction of being the commissioned carol that year (it was "The angel Gabriel" by Robin Holloway).

We were right in our prediction that the Sussex Carol is not being sung after the Third Lesson. It is instead, a repeat of last year's "Nowell sing we now all and some". This is one of four repeats of the internal carols from last year's service (not counting the three constant carols that bookend the service: "Once in royal", "O come, all ye faithful", and "Hark! the herald"). The four carols being repeated are:

All this repetition from last year may be meant to offset some of the extra "newness". In addition to the commissioned carol there is a carol written for the choir's last CD, and that new (shocking!) setting of "Adam lay ybounden".

The hymn after the Third Lesson. It is "Unto us is born a Son". For the 16 years for which we have records it will have been sung six times in this slot. It just edges out "It came upon a midnight clear" which has beens sung five times.

The commissioned carol by Australian composer Carl Vine, "Ring out, wild bells is heard as the second carol after the Fourth Lesson. We're standing by our prediction that it will be awesome.

The hymn after the Seventh Lesson is not "God rest ye" as we thought it might be. It's "While shepherds", one of the four repeats mentioned above.

Since 2000, Stephen Cleobury has included one of his own carol arrangements in the service. The trend continues this year with "The Cherry Tree Carol", the melancholy story of pregnant Mary and indignant Joseph that could be equally at home in an Advent carol service. It was last sung in 2004.

John Rutter's "All bells in paradise" a carol written for the recently released Lessons & Carols CD on the college's new CD label is included in the service after the Sixth Lesson.

William Mathias's "Sir Christèmas" from his carol sequence Ave Rex is the final choir carol of the service. We don't believe that it has been sung at the King's service before.

The famous spreadsheet of all the carols sung at the service since 1997 has been updated.

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