A Festive Celebration of Song and Spirit: Christmas Carol Concert 2023

12th December 2023

Taking place on Sunday 17th December 2023 from 15:30, this year's event offers a wonderful opportunity for those unable to join us in person to enjoy the concert via live stream, ensuring that no one misses out on this heartwarming tradition.

The Spirit of Christmas Comes Alive
Held in the historic Wren Chapel, the concert is an opportunity for the Chelsea Pensioners to come together with the wider community to celebrate Christmas. Attendees can expect a blend of readings and prayers, alongside traditional carols and contemporary compositions; accompanied by the magnificent Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea (See the full programme below).

Join Us Virtually
For those who unable to join us in person, the live stream continues our recent tradition of broadcasting this special event and is your invitation to be part of it from the comfort of home. We are committed to ensuring that the wider community, both near and far, can share in the joy and revelry that so well define the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

A Time for Reflection and Celebration
As we gather, either in the Chapel or virtually, this concert is not just a celebration of Christmas but a reflection of the values that the Royal Hospital and Chelsea Pensioners holds dear - community, respect, and shared history. It's an occasion to honour the legacy and contributions of the Chelsea Pensioners and to revel in the festive spirit that brings us all together.

Enjoy the live stream below:

Programme: 

  • Jesus Christ the apple tree – Elizabeth Poston (1905-1987)  
  • Once in royal David’s city – H. J. Gauntlett (1805-1976), arr. A. H. Mann (1850-1929) & David Willcocks (1919-2015) 
  • Bidding Prayers 
  • Adam lay ybounden – Boris Ord (1897-1961) 
  • 1st reading - Genesis 
  • Unto us is born a Son  - Piae Cantiones, arr. David Willcocks 
  • 2nd reading - Isaiah 
  • For unto us a Child is born (Messiah) – G. F. Handel (1685-1759)  
  • 3rd reading - The Annunciation 
  • Joseph Lieber, Joseph mein – Hieronymus Praetorius (1560-1629)  
  • God rest you merry, gentlemen – English trad., arr. David Willcocks  
  • 4th reading – The Birth of Jesus 
  • Sing lullaby – Herbert Howells (1892-1983)  
  • O little town of Bethlehem – English trad., arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams & Thomas Armstrong (1898-1994)  
  • 5th reading – The Shepherds 
  • The Lamb – John Tavener (1944-2013)  
  • 6th reading – The Wise Men 
  • The First Nowell – English trad. arr. Willcocks 
  • Ding dong! merrily on high – 16th cent. French arr. Mack Wilberg (b. 1955)  
  • 7th reading – St John unfolds the Mystery of the Incarnation 
  • Prayer and blessing 
  • Hark! the herald angels sing – Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), arr. Willcocks 
  • The National Anthem - arr. Gordon Jacob 
  • In Dulci Jubilo, BWV 729 – J. S. Bach (1685-1750) & Te Deum, op. 11 – Jeanne Demessieux (1921-1968) 

With thanks to: 

The Reverend Steven Brookes, Chaplain of the Royal Hospital Chelsea
The Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea
William Vann - Organist and Director of Music
Charles Maxtone-Smith - Organ Scholar
Nally Fernando - Chapel Administrator
Wren Brass - with thanks to George Bartle 

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