Britten: A Ceremony of Carols

Sunday 10th December, 2023, at 5:30 pm

As is traditional in Advent, St Bride’s Choir will be singing Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols on Sunday 10th December at 5:30pm.

The service is open to all, ticketless and free to attend. Pre-registration for this event is now closed. At least 75 seats have been held for those who turn up on the day without registration. Doors open 30 minutes before the service starts.

Seven of the eleven movements of A Ceremony of Carols were written in 1942 as a homesick Britten endured a perilous boat journey across the Atlantic from America. It sets medieval texts by poet Gerald Bullett and embodies the spirit of hope and joy in our anticipation of Christmas.

The work opens and closes with the chant Hodie Christus natus est (Today Christ is born) sung in procession. The chant is also the basis of the poignant and dramatic harp Interlude which is both at the centre of the whole work and its longest movement. We are delighted that harpist Sue Rothstein will once again be joining us.

This service is preceded by a shortened form of Evensong, sung by men’s voices which complements the Britten by using two of the same elements – plainsong, which is used for the responses, psalm and canticles, and medievalism, with a piece of seasonal medieval music ending the service just before the A Ceremony of Carols begins.

Those who have attended this service in the past have found it to be a profoundly devotional experience and a time of calm amidst the bustle of the Christmas period.

Download Order of Online Service (pdf)

A pre-recorded version of this service will also stream online on this page at the same time as the service in church, and on our pages at Facebook, YouTube and SoundCloud.

You can also find and subscribe to this service released as a podcast on itunes, Spotify or wherever you find your podcasts.

A Ceremony of Carols was premiered in London by the women’s voices of the Fleet Street Choir so it is fitting that it has become such a central part of our Advent here at the Journalists’ Church in Fleet Street.

Programme from the London premiere of Ceremony of Carols


There will be a retiring collection at the end of the service to support the work, ministry and music-making of St Bride’s and help maintain our magnificent Wren church.

congregation sitting for service


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