• James Waters Classical

Day 255 - Christmas without Carols from King's - unthinkable!

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

It is the start of many people's Christmas. It is 3pm on 24 December, a boy steps forward in the candlelit chapel of King's College, Cambridge and sings the first haunting verse of Once in Royal David's City - the beginning of the world famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols which began in 1918 in the aftermath of the first world. King's College Choir consists of 16 boys and 14 choral scholars who are undergraduates of the university. It for King's that David Willcocks wrote the famous descants which we hear each year and recognise from Carols for Choirs. OK, I admit it, for me this is special. For three years from 1977 to 1980 I was a bass choral scholar and I will never forget the extraordinary effect of the first congregational verse of Once in Royal which felt as if the earth was moving. The chapel, founded by Henry VI is staggeringly beautiful with its extraordinary vaulted ceiling. The service starts in daylight with the light creating patterns on the stone and ends in candlelit darkness. I will never forget it. For entertainment have a look at the video made in 1978 and see if you can pick out the 19 year old version of today's Creative Director of Classical Music at Perth Concert Hall!


Despite everything there will be carols this year. Even sung to an empty chapel Christmas Eve carols are still Christmas Eve carols and will be listened to by millions around the world. I won't be missing them.


Video of King's in 1978 including JW.... click here

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