A service of Nine Lessons and Carols is held each year shortly before Christmas. As the name indicates, it includes nine (short) readings from the Bible that tell the story of Jesus coming among us, each with by a carol sung by us all and a piece presented by the choir and musicians.The format was devised by Edward Benson (Archbishop of Canterbury 1882-1896) and first used in Truro Cathedral on Christmas Eve, 1880. The service was famously adopted by King's College, Cambridge in 1918.
This is a joyous event of celebration and praise. Below is typical program
Choir—"A Fanfare for Christmas", from Vespers for Christmas Day, by Robin Wells.
The bidding and the Lord's prayer
First carol—Come, thou long expected Jesus—TIS 272.
First lesson—God speaks in the Garden; Genesis 3.8-15.
Choir—"Deo Gracias", from The Ceremony of Carols, by Benjamin Britten, 1953.
Second carol—O come, O come, Emmanuel—TIS 265.
Second lesson—God gives a promise to faithful Abraham; Genesis 22.15-18.
Choir—Noel-Time, words by John Wheeler (Aust., 1901-84); music by William G. James (Aust., 1895-1977).
Solo—"For Behold, Darkness Shall Cover the Earth," from Messiah HWV 56, by G. F. Handel, 1741, sung by Robert Orr (Bass), accompanied by Colin Forbes.
Third lesson—Isaiah foretells the Saviour’s birth; Isaiah 9.2-7.
Choir— Song of the Nuns of Chester. England, 1415.
Third carol—Lo! he comes—TIS 273.
Fourth lesson—The prophet Micah foretells the forthcoming fame of Bethlehem; Micah 5.2-4
Choir—The Little Town Where Christ was Born, words by John Wheeler (Aust., 1901-84), music by William G. James (Aust., 1895-1977).
Fourth carol—O little town of Bethlehem—TIS 316.
Fifth lesson—The angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin Mary;
Choir—No Wind at the Window, music: 'Columcille' (Irish traditional, arr. John Bell).
Fifth carol—The Angel Gabriel—TIS 302.
Sixth lesson—The angel tells Joseph that Mary's child will be God with us. Matthew 1.18-23.
Choir—O Men from the Fields, words Padraic Colum, music Arnold Cooke.
Sixth carol—Unto us a boy is born—TIS 293.
Seventh lesson—The shepherds go to the manger; Luke 2.8-16.
Choir—Gentle Mary, words by Joseph Cook, 1919; music by Colin Brumby, Aust. (1933- ).
Seventh carol—While shepherds watched their flocks—TIS 299.
Eighth lesson—The wise men are led by the star to Jesus; Matthew 2.1-12.
Choir—Kings in Glory, words by Welwyn Image, 1919; music by Martin Shaw.
Eight carol—The First Nowell—TIS 301.
Ninth lesson—St John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation; John 1:1-14.
Choir—A Christmas Antiphon, words by Timothy Dudley-Smith (from Isaiah 9.6-7), tune by John Wilson, arr. William Llewellyn.
Ninth carol—Hark! the herald angels sing—TIS 303.
All sing—Silent night—TIS 311
Prayer and blessing