King’s College Choir at Christmas
Music is so closely associated with Christmas that without it, the holiday would be an entirely different experience. Between Advent and Epiphany, choirs singing hymns and carols are heard in nearly every location and on all media outlets. While choral music tends to fade into the background for many people for much of the year, it is during December and early January that choral music comes into full focus.
One of the oldest and best loved choirs is King’s College Choir of Cambridge University. It traces it’s history back to 1441 with its founding by Henry VI. Henry’s purpose was twofold: to provide a choir for the daily offices and celebrations of Mass and to provide for sons of the poor. Choristers were to be under twelve when admitted, healthy, honest, and able to read and sing (full history here). Considering the state of education and health care for the poor at the time, this seems a pretty tall order; nonetheless, the choir has been singing services consistently for over 500 years. The boys and young men of the choir are among the best trained in the world with respect to choral singing. Their voices blend beautifully and their musicality is superb, which provides a truly uplifting listening experience.
Below, you will find two Youtube presentations of King’s College Choir at Christmas. The first is the BBC video of the 2015 A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. The second is a 2011 presentation of carols and hymns.