The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, has a long and rich history, but are perhaps best known for A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols which takes place in the Chapel every Christmas Eve.
Introduced to King’s in 1918 to bring a more imaginative approach to worship, the service is a mixture of carols and Bible readings. It was first broadcast in 1928 and is now enjoyed by millions across the globe each year. Balancing tradition with a forward-looking approach, the opening carol is always Once In Royal David’s City and there is always a new, specially commissioned carol.
This year’s carol, the 35th commissioned by King’s for the Festival, is by Welsh composer Huw Watkins, who studied at King’s as an undergraduate and is now Professor of Composition at The Royal Academy of Music.
A setting of part of the Welsh Plygain carol Carol Eliseus, as chosen by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Watkins shares: “I wanted to write something pure and somewhat artless, and all the time I’ve had that glorious acoustic in my head.”