The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in Cambridge will be heard only on the BBC this Christmas Eve

For many of us, it is the moment when Christmas really starts: the soaring voice of a boy soloist at King’s College, Cambridge opening its iconic Christmas Eve service with Once in Royal David’s City.

As usual, this year – remarkably, given the pandemic – the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 4. But there will be a major difference: instead of hundreds of people packed into the medieval chapel, its pews will be empty.

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