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DateLecture
04 December 2019Carols from Kings: Uncovering the Unexpected. A King's College Christmas
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Carols from Kings: Uncovering the Unexpected. A King's College Christmas Alexandra Coghlan Wednesday 04 December 2019

Christmas, for millions of people, begins at 3pm on Christmas Eve when a solo chorister sings the simple words 'Once in Royal David's City'.  The annual service of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge is a moment of stillness and beauty in an increasingly chaotic world, a much-loved part of Christmas traditions around the world.  But what many assume to be an ancient tradition is, in fact, a 20th century creation - born not in the peace of the distant past but in the blood and tumult of the First World War, the product not of some traditional rite but of two extraordinary men.

This lecture explores the unexpected origins of this loveliest of Christmas traditions and the personalities behind it, traces not only the origins but also the evolution of Nine Lessons and Carols from local to international phenomenon, its influence not only on the music but also the spirit of Christmas.