One Christmas tradition found in various churches all over Music City has its roots in 19th-century England.
In 1878 the Royal Cornwall Gazette reported that choir members would be ceasing the tradition of traveling through town to sing at parishioners’ homes, and instead would sing a number of carols in the Cathedral on Christmas Eve.
Two years later, the future Archbishop of Cantebury, Edward White Benson, formalized a liturgy of nine lessons (biblical readings) to accompany the carols. It was first performed at King’s College, Cambridge in 1918 — an effort to comfort a student body who had lost so many of its number to World War I. The broadcast, which started in 1928, continued through World War II with the church windows removed for safety.
It has now been adapted by multiple denominations and churches around the world. Over 30 million people still tune in for the broadcast of Carols at Kings. Opening with a song from a book called Hymns for Little Children by Miss Cecil Humpreys – Once in Royal David’s City, and including a set of well-known hymns of the season, and a progression of choral music from darkness to light.
You can partake in this Christmas tradition throughout Advent in Nashville.
Saint George’s Episcopal Church
- A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols
- Dec. 8 at 6 p.m.
West End United Methodist Church
- Annual Candlelight Service
- Dec. 15 at 5:10 p.m.
Belmont United Methodist Church
- Feast of Lights and Carol Service
- Dec. 15 at 6 p.m.
Christ Church Cathedral
- Annual Festival of Lessons and Carols
- Dec. 8 at 4 p.m.
First Baptist Church
- Carol-Candlelight Celebration
- Dec. 15 at 5 p.m.
Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church
- A Festival of Lessons and Carols
- Dec. 8 at 5 p.m.
The music in this story is from King’s College, Cambridge. As always, you can hear the live broadcast of Carols at Kings on Dec. 24 at 9 a.m. on 91Classical (91.1 FM).
Note: This story from 2018 has been edited with current Lessons and Carols service dates and times.