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100 Years of Nine Lessons and Carols


The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
Directed by Stephen Cleobury, Philip Ledger & David Willcocks

Released 9 November 2018


SKU: KGS0033
 Download Available

…a wonderful treasure trove of outstanding singing and superlative music…
Recording of the Month – Musicweb International

  • 9 consecutive weeks at #1 in the UK Specialist Classical Charts (November 2018–January 2019).
  • Second-best-selling core classical album in the UK, 2018.

For many, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the sound of carols sung from King’s College Chapel, and each year over the festive period millions around the world enjoy the Choir’s A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols. This two-part collection celebrates 100 years of the iconic service with a mix of brand-new performances and historical recordings not heard since the original BBC broadcasts.

The first part of this special album tells the story of the service’s long history, featuring Directors of Music David Willcocks, Philip Ledger and Stephen Cleobury in recordings spanning from 1958 to 2017. A selection of traditional favourites are accompanied by world premiere performances of contemporary carols, commissioned by the College from leading contemporary composers, including Judith Weir, Arvo Pärt and Thomas Adès. The second part of the album features brand-new recordings by today’s choir, who shine in cherished compositions such as We Three Kings, The Shepherd’s Farewell and O Holy Night.

100 Years of Nine Lessons & Carols is a fitting tribute to one of music’s greatest institutions: one that has brought joy to so many since its inception at King’s 100 years ago and will continue to do so into the future.

This album features new recordings by Stephen Cleobury and the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and historical recordings taken from the live BBC broadcasts of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. These historical recordings, most of which come from the BBC archive, have not been heard since the original broadcasts. The available recordings feature the Choir as directed by Stephen Cleobury from 1982, and his two immediate predecessors: Philip Ledger and David Willcocks.

Disc 1: Historical recordings from the live BBC broadcastsPlaying time (Disc 1) – 58:12
Conductor, David Willcocks
1Gabriel’s Message (1958)2:35Traditional, arr. Edgar Pettman
2Adam lay ybounden (1963)1:15Boris Ord
3Ding! dong! merrily on high (1963)2:03XVI Century French, arr. Charles Wood
4Sussex Carol (1963)1:53English traditional, arr. David Willcocks
5O come, all ye faithful (1963)4:37John Francis Wade, arr. David Willcocks
Conductor, Philip Ledger
6In dulci jubilo (1980)3:36German trad., arr. Robert L. de Pearsall, ed. Reginald Jacques
7Unto us is born a Son (1980)2:16Piae Cantiones, 1582, arr. David Willcocks
8Hark! the herald angels sing (1978)3:46Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, arr. Philip Ledger
Conductor, Stephen Cleobury
9Illuminare, Jerusalem (1985 – premiere) *2:31Judith Weir
10The holly and the ivy (1994)2:35Traditional, arr. Henry Walford Davies
11Benedicamus Domino (1994)1:12Peter Warlock
12I saw three ships (1994)2:03Traditional, arr. Simon Preston
13The Fayrfax Carol (1997 – premiere) *4:23Thomas Adès
14Tomorrow shall be my dancing day (1997)2:18John Gardner
15I wonder as I wander (2000)1:48Carl Rütti
16The Shepherd’s Carol (2001) †2:53Bob Chilcott
17Dormi, Jesu (2007) †4:29John Rutter
18Bogoróditse Djévo (2007) *1:09Arvo Pärt
19This Endernight (2016 – premiere recording) *4:07Michael Berkeley
20Carol Eliseus (2017 – premiere recording) *2:20Huw Watkins
21Once in royal David’s city (2017)4:23H J Gauntlett & A H Mann, desc. Stephen Cleobury
Disc 2: New recordingsPlaying time (Disc 1) – 48:30
Conductor, Stephen Cleobury
1O Holy Night5:38Adolphe Adam, arr. John Rutter
2The Linden Tree Carol3:04Traditional, arr. Stephen Cleobury
3The Lamb3:39John Tavener
4God rest you merry, gentlemen3:39English traditional, arr. David Willcocks
5The Shepherds’ Farewell4:04Hector Berlioz
6I saw three ships1:50Traditional, arr. Philip Ledger
7We three kings of Orient are3:07John Henry Hopkins, arr. Martin Neary
8Can I not syng but hoy?3:11Francis Jackson
9The Magi’s Dream3:30James Whitbourn
10There is no rose2:13John Joubert
11Adam’s Fall3:15Richard Elfyn Jones
12How shall I fitly meet thee?1:07Johann Sebastian Bach
13Love came down at Christmas1:18R O Morris, arr. Stephen Cleobury
14Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light1:15Johann Sebastian Bach
15O come, all ye faithful3:11John Francis Wade, arr. David Willcocks
16Hark! the herald angels sing4:29Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, desc. Stephen Cleobury
Total playing time – 106:42


Organists (tracks) John Langdon (4-5), John Butt (7), Thomas Trotter (8), James Vivian (12), Robert Quinney (14), Thomas Williamson (15), Richard Gowers (19), Henry Websdale (21)
Soloists (tracks) Marcus McDevitt (19), Thomas Alban (21)


CD2, except tracks 4, 15 & 16: see booklet, page 17.

Tracks 4, 15 & 16:
Organists Douglas Tang, Tom Etheridge



Booklet download button

CD 1, tracks 1–18, 21 recorded by the BBC in the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, by kind permission of the Provost and Fellows, Christmas Eve 1958–2017. Released by arrangement with BBC Music.

CD 1, tracks 19 & 20 recorded at 96kHz 24-bit PCM in the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, by kind permission of the Provost and Fellows, December 2016 & 2017.

CD 2 recorded at 96kHz 24-bit PCM in the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, by kind permission of the Provost and Fellows, 20 March 2014, 12 January & 12–13 July 2018.

For King’s College:

Producers Benjamin Sheen †, Simon Kiln *
Engineers Benjamin Sheen †, Arne Akselberg *
Mastering Benjamin Sheen

† CD 1 tracks 19 & 20, CD 2 excl. tracks 4, 15–16
* CD 2 tracks 4, 15–16

For the BBC (where known):

Balancers Don Eustace (-’77), Harold Kutscherauer(’78-82), Alan Wilson (82-87), Julian Walther (’89-95), Brian Prior (’96-01), Steve Richards (’02-17)

Producers John Haslam, James Whitbourne (’90-’01), Stephen Shipley (’02-10), Simon Vivian (’11-15), Philip Billson (’16-17)


Read more about the 1918 service booklet in the news story.

1918 Service Paper

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