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Advent Lessons and Carols

Have you considered celebrating the service of Advent Lessons and Carols this year?  

Paraclete Press offers you the music needed to celebrate this special season! 

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols has its roots in ancient Christian vigils. But the service in its current format was first held in 1918 at King’s College in Cambridge, England. It was adapted by Reverend Eric Milner-White, dean of King’s College and a former army chaplain. Milner-White was preparing a Christmas Eve service just after the end of World War I. The war had taken a heavy toll on his flock. About half of King’s undergraduates had gone off to war, and a third of them never came back. Milner-White wanted to do something special, he wanted to deliver some level of comfort a midst the horror of the war - that all this pain and suffering and death had some meaning.  A result of this was “The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols".  Throughout the early 1920s, more and more people attended the service, and by 1928 it was well known enough that the BBC picked it up to broadcast throughout the British Isles, and then two years later throughout the world. (excerpt from Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, Dec. 2009)

Protestants and Catholics alike do Lessons and Carols services. The service below follows a basic layout from that done today at King's College, Cambridge. Please enjoy viewing the music and listening to sample audios of each piece - just click on the titles below.  We have provided a selection of anthems to choose from for each lesson.

A Service of Lessons and Carols

Organ Prelude:

Five Advent Preludes by Robert Powell

Vignettes on ‘There is No Rose’ by Leslie Betteridge

Fantasy on “Veni Emmanuel” by Robert Lau

First Prelude from "Seven Liturgical Preludes" by Raymond Weidner


A Centone on Two Carols by C.Griffith Bratt (1229)

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by C.Griffith Bratt (0428)


First Lesson: God tells sinful Adam that he has lost the life of Paradise and that his seed will bruise the serpent’s head Genesis 3

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree by Donald Nally (0322)

Christ Hath a Garden by Franklin Ashdown (0535)


Adam Lay Ybounden by John Butler  (1335)

Adam Lay Ybounden by Frank Boles (9315)


Second LessonGod promises to faithful Abraham that in his seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Genesis 22

From East to West by Robert Edward Smith (0426)

Carol of the Star by June Nixon (0729)


Creator of the Stars of Night by Daniel Nelson (1029)


Third Lesson: The prophet foretells the coming of the Saviour. Isaiah 9

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus by Leslie Betteridge (8501)

Come Dear Christ, Your World Awaits by Bonnie Duckworth (1039)


Sussex Carol by June Nixon (1224)

On Christmas Night by Austin Lovelace (1038)


Hymn or CarolPrepare the Way,O Zion by Robert Lau (1353)


Fourth Lesson: The peace that Christ will bring is foreshown. Isaiah 11

There is No Rose of Such Virtue by Robert Powell (0126)

There is No Rose by Raymond Weidner (0417)

There is No Rose by Alan MacMillan (0737)

Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming by Bruce Saylor (0220)


Fifth LessonThe angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin Mary Luke 1

Gabriel’s Message by Craig Philips (1143)


The Annunciation Carol by Robert Lehman (0029)


Sixth Lesson: St. Luke tells of the birth of Jesus. Luke 2


Away in a Manger arr. by Bruce Saylor (0224)

On the Birthday of the Lord by David Halls (0218)


A Boy Was Born by Robert Farrell (1350)

I Heard an Infant Weeping by David Halls (0217)


Hymn or Carol: O Little Town ofBethlehem arr. by Robert Lau (0851)


Seventh LessonThe Shepherds go to the Manger. Luke 2


Shepherds,Keeping Watch by Night by Derek Healey (1122)


Lute-Book Lullaby by John Butler (1334)


Eighth LessonThe wise men are led by the star to Jesus Matthew 2

In the BleakMidwinter by Robert Lau (0850)

What Sweeter Musick by William Bradley Roberts (8903)


Carol: Of the Father’s LoveBegotten by Bruce Saylor (0719)


Ninth LessonSt. John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation John 1


Hymn: O Come, All Ye Faithful (from Hymnal)

Collect and Blessing

Hymn:  Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (from Hymnal)


Organ Postlude:

from Chorale Voluntaries for the Church Year: Christmas “Adeste Fideles”, C.Griffith Bratt

Fantasia on AdesteFideles by Bruce Neswick


Paraclete Press
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