Every year, VOX Cape Town celebrates two Festivals of Nine Lessons and Carols in December. The first takes place at St Andrew’s Church in Kildare Road, Newlands, and the second takes place at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Somerset Road, Cape Town, and continues the tradition led for many years by the St George’s Singers.

Sunday 3 December 2017 at 18h30: St Andrew’s Church, Kildare Road, Newlands
Sunday 10 December 2017 at 16h00: St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Somerset Road, Cape Town

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols tells the story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah and the birth of Jesus. It is told through nine short Bible readings interspersed with the singing of Christmas hymns and carols. The format was based on an order of service drawn up in 1880 which has since been adapted by churches all over the world. The best-known version is broadcast annually on Christmas Eve by the BBC from King’s College, Cambridge.


In 2016, VOX’s Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols had a South African flavour. Choral works by Rachmaninoff and Vittoria were juxtaposed alongside local choral music from closer to home including “Senzenina?”, “Torches!” and “Come, Colours Rise” – and congregational favourites such as “Once in royal David’s city” and “Hark! The herald-angels sing”. Excitingly, the service was broadcast on Christmas Eve on Fine Music Radio 101.3 FM, replacing the usual recording from King’s College, Cambridge. Recorded by Nolan Chiat (Create Recordings) in St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, this was a wonderful opportunity to promote local music and musicians.

Interview on Fine Music Radio 101.3 FM about the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols Broadcast (December 2016)

by Rodney Trudgeon and John Woodland

Carols for 2017

Coming soon…

Carols for 2016
  • “Come, thou Redeemer of the earth” – Traditional, arr. David Willcocks
  • “Senzenina?” (“What have we done?”) – South African Freedom Song, arr. Pete Seeger
  • “I wonder as I wander” – Appalachian Carol, arr. John Rutter
  • “Bogoróditse Djévo” (“Rejoice, O Virgin”) – Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-­1943, Russia)
  • “O magnum mysterium” (“O great mystery”) – Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548-1611, Spain)
  • “Torches!” – John Joubert (b. 1927, South Africa) with words translated by J. B. Trend
  • “Come, Colours Rise” – Grant McLachlan (b. 1956, South Africa) with words by Frank Barry
Carols for 2015
  • “Adam lay ybounden” – John Ireland (1879-1962, England)
  • “The Lamb” – Sir John Tavener (1944-2013, England)
  • “In dulci jubilo” (“In sweet rejoicing”) – Traditional, arr. JS Bach (1685-1750, Germany)
  • “Gabriel’s Message” – Basque Carol, arr. Edgar Pettman
  • “O magnum mysterium” (“O great mystery”) – Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548-1611, Spain)
  • “Lux Aurumque” (“Light and Gold”) – Eric Whitacre (b. 1970, United States)
  • “Gaudete” (“Rejoice”) – Traditional, arr. Michael McGlynn