The inclusion of a newly commissioned piece of music at the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge is a tradition that began with Stephen Cleobury's tenure in 1982. This, of course, prevents the service from ever being the same from year to year.
It also is very fittingly incarnational. A creative response to God's greatest act of creation that we recall at Christmas.
This year's commissioned carol at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols has been composed by Thea Musgrave.
The text she has chosen is a poem from William Blake's Songs of Experience
Hear the voice of the Bard,
Who present, past, and future, sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walked among the ancient trees;
Calling the lapséd soul,
And weeping in the evening dew;
That might control
The starry pole,
And fallen, fallen light renew!
‘O Earth, O Earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass!
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumbrous mass.
‘Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
The watery shore,
Is given thee till the break of day.'
William Blake (1757–1827)
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