The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College, Cambridge is surely single most listened to regularly occurring church service in the world. Through live and delayed radio and web broadcasts, this service reaches millions of listeners annually.
It has reached that magical point of the year where it comes time to examine what we shall hear at this year's Festival.
We at sinden.org also made some predictions and we need to see how our crystal ball performed.
Final Score: 3.5 not a great showing this year.
A larger number of carols have not been addressed by our predictions. Here they are, in order.
After the first lesson we hear Remember, O thou man by Thomas Ravenscroft. This lovely, simple carol was last sung in 2011.
After the second lesson we hear the Peter Maxwell Davies carol "One Star, at Last". This carol, with words by George Mackay Brown was commissioned for this service in 1984. It was the second in the series of annually commissioned carols in Stephen Cleobury's tenure.
Sung much less often that the Pearsall setting, the older setting by Hieronymus Praetorius of In dulci jubilo follows. This eight part motet was last sung in 2008.
The unbeatable Sussex Carol arranged by David Willcocks follows the third lesson. It last appeared in 2011.
The immaculate A spotless rose of Herbert Howells follows fourth lesson. It is the only Howells carol to appear in the service (at least in recent memory*), and it has not been sung since 2008. As it's superb final cadence fades, the choir will take up the strains of the medieval "There is no rose", a carol that appears frequently in the service of the years, and was last sung in 2009.
The fifth lesson brings the simple Gabriel's Message by Edgar Pettman, last sung just a couple years ago.
Harrison Birtwistle's "Lullaby" comes up after the sixth lesson. Though it hasn't been sung before, Birtwistle's "The Gleam" was the commissioned carol in 2003. The Birtwistle is followed by the familiar Gustav Holst setting of In the bleak midwinter. This carol was last sung in . . . wait a minute. We think the choir has recorded this, but we can't find any indication that it has been sung in this service in recent memory*. The homophonic ease of this carol is probably need as a foil to (we presume) the polyphonic difficulty of the Birtwistle.
Similarly, Hector Berlioz's L'adieu des Bergers (The Shepherd's Farewell), has also been sung by the choir (see below) but never at this service -- note that Carols from Kings, pre-recorded for television broadcast, is not the same as the Christmas Eve service, which is broadcast live on the radio only.
Director Stephen Cleobury has commissioned a new carol every year since 1983. This year the commission goes to Swiss composer Carl Rütti. His setting of "I wonder as I wander" (see below) is familiar to listeners to this service. "I wonder" was last sung in 2011. We will update this paragraph with information about this year's commission De Maria Virgine as that information becomes available.
After the Rutti commission follows the rather saccharine setting of Ding! Dong! merrily on high by Mack Wilberg. Though previously sung in 2007, 2009, and 2010, many of us question whether this carol will really have a long tenure in this service.
The other traditional elements of the service are in place: the final two hymns are "O come, all ye faithful" and "Hark! the herald angels sing". The service concludes, as always with the Bach Organ Prelude on "In dulci jubilo," BWV 729. The final organ voluntary, which changes year to year, is the Final of the Sixth Organ Symphony by Charles-Marie Widor.
Our spreadsheet of all the carols since 1997 has been updated
*We have resorted to the phrase "in recent memory" when necessary because our records only go back to 1997. We very much wish to continue this research, in person, in Cambridge, in 2016/17. Surely a sabbatical is needed.
Labels: Bach, Berlioz, Birtwistle, Cleobury, Holst, Howells, Mackay Brown, Mathias, Maxwell Davies, Ord, Pearsall, Philip Ledger, Praetorius, Ravenscroft, Rutter, Rutti, Warlock, Widor, Wilberg, Willcocks
The page you're reading is part of Sinden.org
©MMXVII Sinden.org: a site for fun and prophet
Looking for Carol Spreadsheets?
Hungry? Try the Liturgical Guide to Altoids Consumption
Thirsty? Try the Tibia Liquida
The Eric Harding Thiman Fan Page: The greatest composer you've never even heard of.
Questions? Problems? email the sexton.
Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise
Book of Common Prayer
The Daily Office
The Lectionary Page
Ship of Fools
The Sub-Dean's Stall
Vested Interest - Trinity Church in the City of Boston
Andrew Kotylo - Concert Organist
Bonnie Whiting, percussion
conjectural navel gazing: jesus in lint form
Friday Night Organ Pump
Halbert Gober Organs, Inc.
in time of daffodils
Joby Bell, organist
Musings of a Synesthete
My Life as Style, Condition, Commodity.
Nathan Medley, Countertenor
Notes on Music & Liturgy
The Parker Quartet
Roof Crashers & Hem Grabbers
That Which We Have Heard & Known
This Side of Lost
Zachary Wadsworth | composer
Advent (Medfield MA)
All Saints, Ashmont (Boston MA)
All Saints (Indianapolis IN)
Atonement (Bronx NY)
Broadway UMC (Indianapolis IN)
Cathedral of All Saints (Albany NY)
Christ Church (Bronxville NY)
Christ Church (Madison IN)
Christ Church (New Haven CT)
Christ Church Cathedral (Indianapolis IN)
Christ's Church (Rye NY)
Church of St. Stephen (Hamden CT)
Congregational (Belmont CA)
Coventry Cathedral (UK)
First UMC (Lancaster SC)
Gloria Dei ELCA (Iowa City IA)
Immanuel Lutheran (St Paul MN)
Immanuel Lutheran (Webster NY)
John Knox PCUSA (Houston TX)
St Andrew (Marblehead MA)
St Andrew's, Oregon Hill (Richmond VA)
St Bartholomew the Great, (London, England)
St James's (Lake Delaware NY)
St James's (Richmond VA)
St James Cathedral (Chicago IL)
St Mary's Cathedral (Memphis TN)
St Matthew and St Timothy (NYC)
St Paul's (Cleveland Heights OH)
St Paul's (Indianapolis IN)
St Paul's Cathedral (Buffalo NY)
St Paul's, K Street (Washington DC)
St Peter's (Lakewood OH)
St Peter's ELCA (NYC)
St Stephen's (Richmond VA
St Thomas (New Haven CT)
St Thomas ELCA (Bloomington IN)
Second PCUSA (Indianapolis IN)
Towson Presbyterian Church (MD)
Tremont Temple Baptist (Boston MA)
Trinity (Indianapolis IN)
Trinity on the purple (New Haven CT)
Yes, but they're not the kind you buy on Wheel of Fortune.
the owner of a bower at Bucklesfordberry?
Full daintily it is dight.
interested in touch lamps?
And fountain pens.