A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols


Join St. Paul's via Zoom for a virtual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 20, 2020.


The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a service that tells the story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus in nine short Bible readings from Genesis, the prophetic books, and the Gospels, interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols and choir anthems. Although the tradition of Nine Lessons and Carols is popularly associated with King’s College, Cambridge, its origins are attributed to Truro Cathedral in Cornwall.


The first Festival at King’s College was held on Christmas Eve in 1918. The service was immensely successful, and the following year Milner-White, the Dean, made some changes to the original format, notably introducing the tradition of opening the service with a soloist singing “Once in Royal David's City.” This was then followed by a bidding prayer penned by Milner-White himself, and re-ordering of the lessons.


The popularity of the service was established when it began to be broadcast by the BBC in 1928, and, except for 1930, has been broadcast every year since. During the 1930s the service reached a worldwide audience when the BBC began broadcasting the service on its Overseas Service. Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College was first televised by BBC Television in 1954. Since the Second World War, millions of listeners worldwide listen to the service live on the BBC World Service and thousands of churches celebrate with their own service in their own parishes.


In this turbulent year we invite you to participate in this notable tradition at St. Paul’s via Zoom. If you do not normally receive Zoom invitations from St. Paul's and would like to attend, please email the office.