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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter uses medievalism as a critical framework for examining the modern appeal of Christmas Lessons and Carols services. Although the first such service took place in 1880, it has been suggested that it is a form of worship that dates back to the Middle Ages. First, the history of Lessons and Carols services is traced. Then, the service at King’s College, Cambridge, is examined in depth as a case study. It is argued that Lessons and Carols services engage with medievalism in three main ways: (1) they evoke a sense of long-standing traditions and identities, particularly with regard to nationality, religion, gender, and race; (2) they feature seemingly “authentic” modes of musical performance; and (3) they present contemporary carols that set medieval texts and evoke medieval musical styles.

Keywords: Lessons and Carols, King’s College, Christmas, Anglican music, nationality, religion, whiteness, gender

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