The “Nine Lessons with Carols” format was devised by the first Bishop of Truro, Edward White Benson, in 1880. It was adapted and introduced to King’s College, Cambridge by its then Dean, Eric Milner-White, in 1918. The live broadcast of “Nine Lessons” from King’s College on Christmas Eve each year is listened to by millions of people all over the world but many will be unaware of its Cornish roots.
The service is led by The Very Reverend Roger Bush, Dean of Truro. Truro Cathedral Choir is directed by Christopher Gray and the organ is played by Luke Bond.
The original music from Christmas Eve 1880 included carols that are no longer in common use, as well as old-fashioned harmonisations of familiar Christmas tunes and parts of Handel’s “Messiah”. The eight hundred people who attended this reconstruction were issued with copies of the original order of service which invited them to join in with certain choruses, as well as giving them directions to kneel and stand in unusual places. These, along with Benson’s sometimes eccentric dynamic markings, were faithfully observed.