I came up with the idea of this website when I was planning our Christmas service of Nine Lessons and Carols at St Mary’s, Dover (UK). I needed a carol to go with one particular reading and I was short of inspiration. I went looking for a resource like this and was surprised not to find such a thing. It's designed simply to provide suggestions as to possible repertoire, linked to the various traditional readings in the carol service.
What is 'Nine Lessons and Carols'? The traditional carol service, broadcast every year by King's College, Cambridge
, and used as a template in countless churches, cathedrals and schools around the world, was first devised by E.W. Benson
, Bishop of Truro, in 1880. It was first used in the wooden shed which served as Bishop Benson's cathedral. It was adapted for use at King's in 1918 by the Dean, Eric Milner-White
, who also wrote the Bidding Prayer. The readings recount, as the Bidding Prayer puts it, 'the tale of the loving purposes of God, from the first days of man's disobedience, unto the glorious redemption brought us by [this] Holy Child', beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, through various Old Testament prophecies relating to the coming Messiah, up to the Nativity, the visits of the Shepherds and the Wise Men, and culminating with words from the Gospel of John, 'In the beginning was the Word'.
Some of the music suggested here is suitable for more than one reading, of course, but I've tried to pin everything to at least one reading. I’d be very happy to have more suggestions for suitable repertoire. Send your suggestions for additional repertoire to me via the contact button above, and let me know why the pieces work for you. Together we can make this a truly valuable and time-saving online resource.
Many of my friends and customers in the cathedral and church music world helped with the initial set-up by sending me their orders of service. My thanks are due to Geraint Bowen, Alan Bullard, Stephen Cleobury, Scott Farrell, David Flood, Tim Harper, Michael & Brigitte Harris, Neil Medland, Tim Noon, Sarah O'Keeffe, Aaron Shilson and James Vivian.
I hope you find these pages useful, and that maybe you will discover the inspiration you need. Thanks for visiting!
More info about this project...