Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Thursday 22 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Ndoc Suma

The Man Who Gave the World the Sound of Christmas

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 12/23/15

If you’ve never heard of David Willcocks, chances are you have heard his musical arrangements for Christmas, which have come to define the season for generations around the world.

An appreciation:

At 3pm on Christmas Eve, millions of radios around the world will be tuned to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College Chapel in Cambridge in time to hear the pure voice of a single boy chorister singing one of the hardest solos of the church calendar, the first verse of “Once in Royal David’s City”. For many, this signals the start of Christmas. Broadcasts of the Christmas Eve service from King’s began in 1928, but arguably it was under the guidance of Sir David Willcocks, who died in September 2015, aged 95, that the service – and the choir – became household names. The many tributes that followed Willcocks’ death all acknowledged that during his tenure from 1957 to 1973, his name became virtually synonymous with the idea of a traditional Christmas Carol service. The Nine Lessons and Carols form became popular in churches and chapels of all sizes and traditions, and is still widely used today. The King’s model and the influence of the Carols for Choirs series – a series of books edited by Willcocks, first with Reginald Jacques and later John Rutter – have together had a huge effect on the way in which millions of people think about Christmas music.

Read why.

The Guardian has an extensive obit from last September.

Below, one of my favorite hymns of the season—it will be the processional at Midnight Mass—as brought to life at King’s College.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
KIDS,WATERMELON,BEACH
Cerith Gardiner
New study shows that these 2 childhood habits make you a happier ...
2
EUCHARIST
Philip Kosloski
5 Fascinating facts about Jesus in the Eucharist
3
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
4
HEART OF JESUS
Bret Thoman, OFS
“Jesus, you take care of it”: Prayer of a priest Padr...
5
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
6
PRINCE PHILIP
Cerith Gardiner
The lasting lesson from the late Prince Philip
7
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
See More