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K I N G ’S C O L L E G E C H A P E L









North Porch Organ Console






South Porch



In the unlikely event that an emergency evacuation of the Chapel becomes necessary, an announcement will normally be made by either the Dean or the Chaplain. Please follow his instructions and those of the Chapel stewards. Should there be anyone near you requiring assistance, please help, or draw the matter to the attention of the stewards. Please remain in your place until you are instructed by the stewards to leave the Chapel by one of the Fire Exits indicated above. Keep calm and quiet so that additional instructions can be heard. Once outside make your way to the muster area on the Back Lawn next to the river where further instructions will be given. Should you want any assistance please speak to one of the stewards. Please attend carefully to all announcements for your own safety and that of others.

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was first UR held on Christmas Eve 1918. It was planned by Eric Milner-White, who, at the age of thirty-four, had just been appointed Dean of King’s after experience as an army chaplain which had convinced him that the Church of England needed more imaginative worship. (He devised our Advent Carol Service in 1934, and was a liturgical pioneer and authority during his twenty-two years as Dean of York.) The music was then directed by Arthur Henry Mann, Organist 1876–1929. The choir included sixteen trebles as laid down in King Henry VI’s statutes, but until 1927 the men’s voices were provided partly by Choral Scholars and partly by older Lay Clerks, and not, as now, by fourteen undergraduates.

A revision of the Order of Service was made in 1919, involving rearrangement of the lessons, and from that date the service has always begun with the hymn ‘Once in royal David’s city’. In almost every year the choice of carols has varied, and some new ones have been introduced by successive Organists: Arthur Henry Mann; Boris Ord, 1929–57; Harold Darke (his substitute during the war), 1940–45; Sir David Willcocks, 1957–73; Sir Philip Ledger, 1974–82 and, from 1982, Stephen Cleobury. The backbone of the service, the lessons and the prayers, has remained virtually unchanged.

The original service was, in fact, adapted from an Order drawn up by E. W. Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury, for use in the wooden shed, which then served as his cathedral in Truro, at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve 1880.

A. C. Benson recalled: ‘My father arranged from ancient sources a little service for Christmas Eve – nine carols and nine tiny lessons, which were read by various officers of the Church, beginning with a chorister, and ending, through the different grades, with the Bishop.’ The idea had come from G. H. S. Walpole, later Bishop of Edinburgh. Almost immediately other churches adapted the service for their own use. A wider frame began to grow when the service was first broadcast in 1928 and, with the exception of 1930, it has been broadcast annually, even during the Second World War, when the ancient glass (and also all heat) had been removed from the Chapel and the name of King’s could not be broadcast for security reasons. Sometime in the early 1930s the BBC began broadcasting the service on overseas programmes. It is estimated that there are millions of listeners worldwide, including those to Radio Four in the United Kingdom. In recent years it has become the practice to broadcast a recording of the service on Christmas Day on Radio Three, and since 1963 a shorter service has been filmed periodically for television. Recordings of carols by Decca and EMI have also served to spread its fame.

In these and other ways the service has become public property. From time to time the College receives copies of services held, for example, in the West Indies or the Far East and these show how widely the tradition has spread. The broadcasts, too, have become part of Christmas for many far from Cambridge. One correspondent writes that he heard the service in a tent on the foothills of Everest;

another, in the desert. Many listen at home, busy about their own preparations for Christmas. Visitors from all over the world are heard to identify the Chapel as ‘the place where the Carols are sung’.

Wherever the service is heard and however it is adapted, whether the music is provided by choir or congregation, the pattern and strength of the service, as Dean Milner-White pointed out, derive from the lessons and not the music. ‘The main theme is the development of the loving purposes of God …’ seen ‘through the windows and words of the Bible’.

Local interests appear, as they do here, in the Bidding Prayer; and personal circumstances give point to different parts of the service. Many of those who took part in the first service must have recalled those killed in the Great War when it came to the famous passage ‘all those who rejoice with us, but on another shore and in a greater light’. The centre of the service is still found by those who ‘go in heart and mind’ and who consent to follow where the story leads.

Why do you give the baby gold?

The guiding star foretold a king...

MARY'S CAROL © PETER DALE, 2006 Enitharmon Press Text not given in full in this website version of the booklet due to copyright reasons.

At the request of the BBC the service starts a little after 3 p.m.

In order not to spoil the service for other members of the congregation and radio listeners, please do not talk or cough unless it is absolutely necessary. Please turn off chiming digital watches and mobile phones.


The Director of Music, Stephen Cleobury, is always pleased to receive enquiries about membership of the Choir. Please telephone him (01223 331224) or write to him at the College for details: King’s College, Cambridge CB2 1ST. or e-mail: choir@kings.cam.ac.uk The next auditions for Choristerships are on 10 February 2007.

The congregation is silent during the organ music before the service.

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The congregation in the Choir stands at the same time as the congregation in the Ante-chapel, so that all are silent when the hymn starts. All join in singing the last four verses.

–  –  –

Then, all standing, this bidding prayer is said.

The Dean B E L O V E D I N C H R I S T, be it this Christmas Eve our care and delight to prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the angels: in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child; and let us make this Chapel, dedicated to Mary, his most blessed

Mother, glad with our carols of praise:

But first let us pray for the needs of his whole world; for peace and goodwill over all the earth; for unity and brotherhood within the Church he came to build, and especially in the dominions of our sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth, within this University and City of Cambridge, and in the two royal and religious Foundations of King

Henry VI here and at Eton:

And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us at this time remember in his name the poor and the helpless, the cold, the hungry and the oppressed; the sick in body and in mind and them that mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children; all who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love.

Lastly let us remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for evermore are one.

These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the throne of heaven, in the words which Christ himself hath taught us: Our Father …


Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.

The Dean The Almighty God bless us with his grace: Christ give us the joys of everlasting life: and unto the fellowship of the citizens above may the King of Angels bring us all.

All Amen.

The congregation sits.

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they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in ND the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

–  –  –

the angel of the L O R D called unto Abraham out of ND heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the L O R D, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

–  –  –

people that walked in darkness have seen a great HE light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the L o r d of hosts will perform this.

–  –  –

there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, ND and a branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the L O R D shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the L O R D ; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the L O R D. With righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and

the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together:

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the L O R D, as the waters cover the sea.

–  –  –

T ’ S all under the leaves and the leaves of life, Where I saw maidens seven, And it’s one of those as Mary mild, Was our King’s mother from heaven.

Then I asked them what they were looking for, All under the leaves of life, I am looking for sweet Jesus Christ, To be our heavenly guide.

Go you down, go you down to yonder town, As far as you can see, And there you will find sweet Jesus Christ, With his body nailed to a tree.

Dear mother, dear mother, do not weep for me, Your weeping does me harm;

But John may be a comfort to you When I am dead and gone.

–  –  –

in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from ND God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation

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