Join our mailing list

A Festival of Lessons and Carols

These services of Lessons and Carols from 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996 tell the stories of the loving purposes of God as seen through the windows and words of the Bible.

King's College Chapel, Cambridge

The four years, 1993-1996, all follow the same outline, using the same scripture passages. This model closely follows the original Lessons and Carols service that took place at the Kings College Chapel in Cambridge, a service which still happens each year. What follows here is the outline with the possible hymns, carols, or anthems that can be sung or played after each passage. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but examples of the pieces that were used in the services from 1993-1996.


"Unto Us a Child Is Born," arr. Cranham/Granmann
"Ding Dong! Merrily on High," 16th c. French/Dobrinski
"While By My Sheep," arr. Cynthia Dobrinski
"On Christmas Day In the Morn," arr. Fred Gramann
"In the Bleak Midwinter," Holst/Buckwalter
"Comfort, Comfort Ye My People," Bourgeois & Handel/Dobrinski
"Of the Father's Love Begotten," Wilbur Held

Processional Hymn:

"Come, Thou Redeemer of the Earth," Michael Praetorius
"Once in Royal David's City," H.J. Gauntlett
"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," David Willcocks

Bidding Prayer

Pastor: Beloved in Christ, as we await the great festival of Christmas let us prepare ourselves so that we may be shown its true meaning. Let us hear, in lessons from Holy Scripture, how the prophets of Israel foretold that God would visit and redeem his waiting people. Let us rejoice, in our carols and hymns, that the good purpose of God is being mightily fulfilled. Let us celebrate the promise that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will bring all people and all things into the glory of God's eternal kingdom. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.

But first, let us pray for the world which God so loves, for those who have not heard the good news of God, or who do not believe it; for those who walk in darkness and the shadow of death, for peace on earth and goodwill among all his people; for unity within the Church in this place and everywhere, that it may be freed from all evil and fear, and may in pure joy lift up the light of the love of God.

These prayers and praises let us humbly offer to God, in the worlds which Christ himself taught us:

All: [say the Lord's Prayer]

Bidding Carol/A Christmas Proclamation:

"Birthday Carol," David Willcocks
"Make We Merry On This Feast," Andrew Carter
"God Is With Us," John Tavener
"Hodie Christus Natus Est" (Today Christ Is Born), Giovanni Gabrieli

First Lesson

Scripture: Genesis 3:8-15

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.


"Remember Adam's Fall," Thomas Ravenscroft
"The Truth Sent from Above," Don Malin
"Adam lay ybounden," Boris Ord
"Jesus Christ the Apple Tree," Elizabeth Poston

Second Lesson

Scripture: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.


"O Light Everlasting," Olaf Christiansen
"Natus est nobis" (God Is Born to Us), Jacob Handl
"Personent hodie," arr. Gustav Holst
"Comfort, Comfort, Now My People," Claude Goudimel

Third Lesson

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-9

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.


"A Spotless Rose," Jonathon Willcocks
"Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming," Robert Scholz
"Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming," Hugo Distler
"What Sweeter Music," John Rutter, Robert Herrick

Fourth Lesson

Scripture: Luke 1:26-35

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.


"En Natus Est Emanuel" (To us is born Emmanuel), Michael Praetorius
"Nova, Nova," Grayston Ives
"Angel's Carol," John Rutter
"There Is No Rose," Paul Hillier

Fifth Lesson

Scripture: Luke 1:39-55

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.


"Magnificat in E," Herbert Murrill
"Magnificat," Alexandre Gretchaninoff
"Magnificat," John E. Hare
"Rejoice, O Virgin," Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sixth Lesson

Scripture: Luke 2:1-7

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.


"See Amid the Winter's Snow," John Goss/David Willcocks
"Christmas Night," John Rutter
"O Little Town of Bethlehem," John Rutter
"In the Bleak Mid-winter," Gustav Holst, Christina Rossetti
"The First Nowell," arr. David Willcocks
"Today the Virgin," John Tavener, Mother Thekla
"O Holy Night," Adolphe Adam, arr. Peggy Wheeler

Seventh Lesson

Scripture: Luke 2:8-20

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.


"Gloria in excelsis Deo," Franz Schubert
"Gloria in excelsis Deo" from "Great Mass in C Minor," Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
"Gloria in excelsis Deo" from "Christmas Cantata," Daniel Pinkham
"Boston. For Christmas," William Billings


"The Shepherds' Cradle Song," Charles Macpherson
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," Mendelssohn/Dobrinski
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," arr. David Willcocks

Eighth Lesson

Scripture: Matthew 2:1-11

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.


"Joy to the World," John Rutter
"We Three Kings of Orient Are," John Rutter
"As with Gladness Men of Old," C. Kocher, arr. David Willcocks
"Here Is the Little Door," Herbert Howells, Frances Chesterton

Ninth Lesson

Scripture: John 1:1-14

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.


"Before the Marvel of this Night," Carl Schalk/John Ferguson
"Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree," Carl Schalk
"O Magnum Mysterium," Tomas Luis de Victoria
"Senex puerum," William Byrd


Pastor: Almighty God, you wonderfully created and yet more wonderfully restored the dignity of human nature. In your mercy, let us share the divine life of Jesus Christ who came to share our humanity, and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The Blessing

Pastor: Go forth into the world in peace;
be of good courage;
hold fast that which is good;
render to no person evil for evil;
Strengthen the faint-hearted;
support the weak;
help the afflicted;
honor all people;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you, and remain with you forever. Amen.

"The Nunc Dimittis," Alexander Gretchaninof
"This Christmastide," Donald Fraser, Jane McCulloch

Recessional Hymn:

"Adeste Fideles," John Rutter


"Savior of the Nations, Come," Paul Manz
"The Golden Carol," Richard Warner
"Vieux Noel," Cesar Franck
"Noel: Grand jeu et Duo," Louis Claude Daquin