On the third Sunday of Advent we visit one of the world’s most renowned choirs, who will be performing a choral favourite! Today we are at the iconic 15th century chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, where the choir sings In the Bleak Midwinter. Directed by Daniel Hyde, this beautiful recording is the title track on their latest Christmas CD.
The CD reflects a Christmas that was unlike any other in recent history. Much of the music on this album has historically been heard around the world as part of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a service that has been broadcast live from King’s on Christmas Eve every year since 1930.
But for Christmas Eve 2020 in the face of a global pandemic, the continuation of this uniquely long-running tradition was not possible. Instead, a full service, with lessons, carols, organ voluntaries and prayers, was recorded in an empty Chapel with the Choir of King’s College spread out around the stalls. For its millions of listeners, the broadcast meant the continuation of a Christmas tradition in a year when so many were without their friends and family, and without so much of what makes Christmas special.
The choir is looking forward to a more normal Christmas this year, with the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols returning to a busy chapel once again. The service will broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service on 24 December at 3pm (10:00 EST or 07:00 PST). The service is also broadcast at 1pm on Radio 3 on Christmas Day, and at various times on the BBC World Service.