The choristers were joined by The King’s Singers for Carols from King’sGEOFF ROBINSON/ KING’S COLLEGE CHOIR

The highly-anticipated Christmas performances by the Choir of King’s College have been disrupted this year by the pandemic, with Carols from King’s being pre-recorded and The King’s Singers stepping in for the choir’s undergraduate choral scholars. 

Carols from King’s is a televised concert of old and new carols filmed in early December and broadcast on BBC 2, and this year was filmed without a congregation, while the two choirs socially distanced.

Meanwhile, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols has been performed every Christmas Eve by the Choir of King’s College since 1918. However, for the first time in 90 years it will not be performed live, instead being pre-recorded. The service consists of a collection of older and newer hymns interspersed with readings from the Bible, and is broadcast on BBC radio. This year it is also expected to be broadcast by around 450 radio stations in America.

Both performances are traditionally given by 16 boy choristers and 13 male undergraduate choral scholars. However, two days before recording Carols from King’s, two of the choral scholars from the same household tested positive for Covid-19, with the remaining choral scholars being asked to isolate as a result. According to a post on the College’s website, the choir members who tested positive exhibited “mild symptoms,” and, along with the remaining choral scholars, were offered “welfare and pastoral support.”


Mountain View

To the chapel choir that anchored me

The young choristers were instead joined for the performance by the six members of The King’s Singers, an a cappella group founded by recent King’s choral scholars in 1968. 

Revd. Dr Stephen Cherry, Dean of King’s College, said: “We are all hugely grateful to The King’s Singers for stepping up at the last minute. They have shown tremendous goodwill and consummate professionalism. Our young choristers also responded very positively and with real maturity to the several challenges faced in reimagining the programme, and together they have enabled us to offer a wonderful Christmas service at extraordinarily short notice.” 

The King’s Singers also tweeted: “What an honour it was to be invited to sing in this service, although our thoughts are with the choral scholars who had prepared so well for it. We hope we'll do those guys proud!”

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service at 15:00 GMT on Christmas Eve, and Carols from King’s will be broadcast on Christmas Eve at 17:30 GMT on BBC 2.

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