The London Oratory Carol Service takes place tomorrow evening, Monday 22 December at 7.30pm (doors open from 7pm). The service follows the pattern of the traditional English Carol Service, with the addition of Benediction. In the spirit of St Philip Neri's love of drawing the faithful to devotion through the powerful combination of scripture and music, all of the carols are closely related to the readings. Rachmaninov's Ave Maria follows the reading of Gabriel's Message, while Peter Cornelius's Three Kings, with its climactic 'offer thy heart to the infant King' is the motet sung before the exposed Blessed Sacrament.
A particular feature of this service is the interplay between the Oratory's Junior Choir, for boys and girls aged 8-16, and the professional Senior Choir, in medieval cantiones as well as in the traditional German alternation of Quem pastores, in which the 'Angels' (the Junior Choir) sing from the gallery while the 'Shepherds' (the Senior Choir) respond from below with 'Nunc angelorum gloria!'. The service will include a carol by the Oratory's organist, Matthew Martin, on the text of the 'O' Antiphon for December 22, O Rex Gentium.