Christmas ain't begun 'til...the little boys sing!
The calls start coming by early December. "Are you broadcasting Lessons and Carols this year?" "When will the carols from Cambridge be on?"
The answers, I'm happy to say, are "you bet" and "Christmas Eve at 10 in the morning, re-broadcast Christmas morning at 10." To which the happy and relieved caller responds, in the spirit of the moment, "Thanks be to God!"
No two hours in New England Public Radio's entire yearly schedule are as eagerly anticipated as are 10:00 to noon, Eastern Standard Time, on the 24th of December. That's when one of the oldest continuing traditions in broadcasting, dating back to 1928, is renewed for new and old audiences alike. We could or would no more not broadcast "A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols" than we could or would forestall the lengthening of days following the winter solstice.
Like all beloved traditions, "Lessons and Carols" remains comfortingly consistent, while also constantly refreshing itself with new elements. Each year, a single boy singer (informed of his selection just moments prior) begins the service with the carol "Once in Royal David's City". Each year's festival concludes with the congregation joining the choir for "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing". You can join in too -- the words and music are in the program book. And each year since 1982, a new carol is commissioned and premiered; some, such as John Rutter's "What Sweeter Music", have entered the standard carol repertoire. This year's new carol comes from a composer only nine years old when that new tradition was started, Tansy Davies. Not your stereotypical British carol composer, she.
So, it is with great pleasure that we at New England Public Radio invite you to sit by your radio, just like in the old days, for a program that has inspired, comforted and delighted countless of listeners worldwide for 83 years, and is offered again with our best wishes for a warm and wonderful holiday season.