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