Friday, 24 December 2010
For many the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College Cambridge heralds the true start of Christmas.
The service has been broadcast live from King's College Chapel in Cambridge since 1928, following the same pattern of scripture lessons, but with a combination of traditional carols (it always starts with Once in Royal David's City and ends with Hark! The Herald Angels Sing) and a new commission (this year from Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara).
As darkness falls, the blue tones of medieval stained glass give way to the warmth of candlelight to create a unique atmosphere in which the Christmas story is told. It's a rare moment of tranquillity amid the mayhem of our increasingly commercial festivities and there's nothing quite like it for producing a feeling of goodwill towards all men.