Sinden.org published its traditional preview of the music list for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge late last month.
For the days leading up to the service, we have been offering a Kalendar of Carols: a more in-depth look at each piece of music to be sung.
So far, we've covered the opening hymn, Bidding Prayer, In the bleak mid-winter – Harold Darke, Adam's Fall – Richard Elfyn Jones, Love came down at Christmas – arr. Stephen Cleobury, How shall I fitly meet thee – Bach, I saw three ships – arr. Ledger, Illuminare Jerusalem – Judith Weir, and the hymn "O little town of Bethlehem", A spotless rose – Herbert Howells, The Lamb – John Tavener, The Angel Gabriel – Pettman, The Linden Tree Carol – arr. Cleobury, this year's commissioned carol by Huw Watkins, Away in a manger – Willcocks. Can I not sing but hoy – Francis Jackson, the hymn "God rest ye merry, gentlemen", We three kings – arr. Neary, The Magi's Dream – Whitbourn, the hymn "O come, all ye faithful", and the hymn "Hark! the herald angels sing".
There's not much more to say about that. It would be hard to imagine the service concluding any other way.
This is not to say that there couldn't have been some variability with this over the last 100 years, but this would require a close examination of all the services. At least from 1982, this voluntary has been a fixed element.
Note what has happened in this service toward the end. Since the Ninth Lesson all the elements have been "ordinary" and unchanging. The lesson, the two hymns, the collect and blessing, and now the first voluntary.
This is a clear signal, year after year that the service is ended. It is at the second organ voluntary that the organists again have some input into the music. And we address that tomorrow.
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