Nine Carols And Nine Lessons

This time of year is full of countdowns. Sleeps until Christmas, the Twelve Days, the chocolate countdown of the Advent calendar…

Cadbury's Advent Calendar

Cadbury’s Advent Calendar

But one of the more wholesome staples of our Christmas numerological experience is the classic service of nine carols and nine readings. It began in Truro in Cornwall with a service on Christmas Eve in 1880 organised by Bishop Benson, which has survived unaltered in essence to the present day.

Truro Cathedral

Truro Cathedral

Truro cathedral was being rebuilt at the time, and that 1880 service took place in a temporary wooden building which served as a cathedral for the duration of those works. It has been said that an ulterior motive to creating this ecclesiastical entertainment was to keep people out of the bars on Christmas Eve. It seems just as likely, however, that it was an effort to create an accessible liturgical narrative. With singing. Everybody likes singing at a party. Continue reading