Oxted & District History Society - Talk
Oxted & District History Society

Dr. Helen Isom, formerly of the Royal College of Church Music and now Head of Music at Coombe Bank School, gave an illustrated lecture to the Oxted & District History Society with archive film and music on ‘A Festival of 9 Lessons & Carols’.

Traditionally held at Kings College Chapel, Cambridge, the 9 Lesson & Carol Festival was started at Truro in 1880 by the 1st Bishop of Truro, Edward White Benson.  The first 9 Lesson and Carol service at Kings College Chapel was organised by Eric Milner-White on Christmas Eve, 1918.  Once in Royal David’s City, with its first verse treble solo, started in 1919.  Some of the carols change each year and the service has been broadcast on radio, almost since broadcasting began and on television since 1954.  Nowadays, people queue for admission for up to 24 hours beforehand.

Since 1982, a new carol has been commissioned by Kings College each year, including John Tavener’s ‘The Lamb’, John Rutter’s ‘What sweeter music can we bring’ and a new setting of ‘The Three Kings’ by Jonathan Dove with words by Dorothy L. Sayers.  Following the lecture, History Society members enjoyed their pre-Christmas Party.


The history of ‘A festival of the ‘9 Lessons and 9 Carols’.

a talk by Dr Helen Isom.