Advent Carols from St. John's

For lovers of carol services Christmas is virtually synonymous with Cambridge. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast annually from the Chapel of King's College on Christmas Eve is renowned worldwide but this is the first time it has been recorded commercially. The first Sunday of Advent, is usually the last Sunday of the Cambridge Michaelmas term and has become the focus for a particularly appropriate prelude to the Christmastide festivities and the concept of an Advent Carol Service was thus conceived at St. John's College.



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Catalogue Number

Drop down ye heavens Richard Lloyd

Lo! he comes with clouds descending (English Trad.)

The Message of Advent

O Sapientia; O Adonai

First Lesson

Adam lay ybounden Boris Ord

The Lord at first did Adam make George Guest

The Word of God

O Radix Jesse; O Clavis David

Es ist das Heil uns kommen her Johannes Brahms

Second Lesson

A Spotless Rose Herbert Howells

There is no Rose Elizabeth Maconchy

The Ministry of the Church

O Oriens; O Rex Gentium

Ave Maria Felix Mendelssohn

The Preparation for the Advent of Christ

O Emmanuel

A Hymn to the Virgin Benjamin Britten

I sing of a maiden Patrick Hadley

Third Lesson

This have I done for my true love Gustav Holst

Fourth Lesson

Magnificat (The Gloucester Service) Herbert Howells

The Christmas Sentence and Collect

Benedicamus Domino Peter Warlock

The College Prayer & Grace

O little town of Bethlehem (English Trad.)


As a winter-warming and haunting introduction to the Christmas season, recordings come no better than this, especially when sung with the heartfelt sincerity of the St. John’s Choristers. Christopher Thomas,

This recording presents a reconstruction of the Service for Advent with Carols and within the space available preserves as many aspects as possible of the Service as it might be heard on Advent Sunday from St. John's. It should be noted however that the number of readings has been curtailed and that certain congregational elements are naturally absent as is the extended organ voluntary played as choir and congregation leave the chapel. The Service blends traditional plainsong antiphons, carols and carol-anthems alongside readings and Collects.

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