The service “Nine Lessons and Carols” was originally drafted at the turn of the nineteenth century by Edward White Benson, Bishop of Truro in Cornwall and later Archbishop of Canterbury. According to tradition, he organized the first service at 10:00 pm on Christmas Eve in 1800 in order to keep men away from the pubs! It tells the grand story of salvation, from the fall of humanity to the Incarnation of the Son of God in the human baby Jesus of Nazareth, in nine short Bible readings interspersed with carols and hymns. It has since been adapted by churches all over the world, though it remains most widely used among Anglicans. The most famous annual celebration of Lessons and Carols is that at King’s College in Cambridge, which has been broadcast live around the world on Christmas Eve by the BBC since 1928.
The service is a rich musical telling of the story of salvation which will highlight this critical moments in our race's creation and redemption:
- The Fall of the human race (Genesis 3:8-19)
- God's promise that he will bless our entire race through Abraham's offspring (Genesis 22:15-18)
- Isaiah foretells the kingdom of Christ (Isaiah 9:2-7)
- Isaiah foretells the peace Christ's kingdom will bring (Isaiah 11:1-10)
- Mary is told she will bear a son (Luke 1:26-38)
- The birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-7)
- The shepherds visit the newborn Jesus (Luke 2:8-16)
- The wise men from the East visit the newborn Jesus (Matthew 2:1-11)
- The Incarnation of the Word of God (John 1:1-14)
The service will start at 4:00 and end around 5:00. A program of catechesis for children ages 2-9 will be held separately during part of the service, though children are welcome to stay in the service and enjoy the carols.