Truro Cathedral recreates historic carol service

17 December 2013, 12:31

The first ever Nine Lessons and Carols service took place in Truro Cathedral in 1880 - and is being recreated this evening to celebrate the city's role in the tradition.

One of Britain's oldest Christmas traditions 'Carols from Kings' is being revived this year in its original home: Truro Cathedral. Contrary to popular belief, the first service was not invented in Cambridge, but was thought up by a Bishop, Edward White Benson, in Cornwall in 1880.

At the time, Truro Cathedral was in the earliest stages of its construction, so the service took place in a temporary wooden building used by the congregation until 1887. Around 400 people took part in the celebration, which included carols, readings, contemporary songs, and music from Handel's Messiah.

The format was quickly adopted by other churches, and was adapted for King's College, Cambridge by Eric Milner-White. The service has been broadcast almost annually on Christmas Eve since 1928.

Director of music Christopher Gray, speaking to This is Cornwall, said: "Benson's format has travelled across the globe and we have recently been piecing together exactly what the origins of this great institution are."

He added: "Piecing together what took place at 10pm on Christmas Eve in 1880 has been fascinating."

This year the cathedral is recreating the original service, even rethinking the sound of the organ so it sounds more authentic. There are a few modern touches however: the service is being webcast from 7pm this evening, as well as being open to the public.