The original order for the Festival of Lessons and Carols was drawn up in 1800 by Reverend E. W. Benson, then Bishop of Truro and later Archbishop of Canterbury, for use in a cold, damp wooden shed, which was serving as his cathedral.

It is a format that has since become so popular that it is today broadcast to over 100 million people around the world live from the Chapel of King’s College Cambridge on Christmas Eve each year.

Wherever the service is heard and however it is adapted, the real strength lies in the lessons which ‘develop the story of the loving purposes of God seen through the windows and words of the Holy Bible’.

Let us all pray that we may be at the centre of this service, as those who go in heart and mind to Bethlehem, to prepare ourselves fully to celebrate the nativity of our Lord and to welcome him into our own lives and homes.

Great little one whose all-embracing birth brings earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth.