Lessons and Carols

Every year, North Americans dive deep into the beauty of the service called Nine Lessons of Carols. One of the very well-known services is the service of “Nine Lessons”! This service starts at 3pm of the UK time during the eve of Christmas and is also broadcasted on Radio on BBC and also around the world.

 This service began by Edwards Benson who was the Bishop of Truro at that time, in 1880! And, the service was organized in a wooden building which was then used as a temporary cathedral because the main building of the Truro cathedral was in the process of being built.

This tradition of service traveled far at various places in UK and gradually it became an important part of the celebration of Christmas.And, it became more famous because of the Coir of King’s College, which was considered as the best church at that point in time.

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a service of Christian worship celebrating the birth of Jesus. The story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus is told in nine short Bible readings from Genesis, the prophetic books and the Gospels,interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols, hymns and choir music.

 The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was first performed at King’s College in 1918 as a way of the college celebrating the end of the First World War. The new college Dean, Eric Milner-White, who had been an Army Chaplain in WWI, wanted a different and more positive way of celebrating Christmas for the choir and people in the college. The readings have remained the same including the nine lessons that will be read till today. The opening carol of the service is traditionally “Once in Royal David’s City”which will be sung today by the entire congregation.

The BBC first broadcast the service, on the radio, in 1928 and apart from 1930 it’s been broadcast every year since – even during WWII. In the early 1930s, the BBC started broadcasting the service overseas. It was first broadcasted live in the USA in 1979 where it’s presented by organist Michael Barone of Minnesota Public Radio.

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