If On A Winter's Night: 9 Artists + 9 Carols

Curated by the St Mary's Arts Collective

Sponsored by Stow Brothers and the Heritage Lottery Fund

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One of the country’s most beloved traditions is the Nine Lessons and Carols service, famously broadcast to a national audience each year from King’s College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve. 

This year on 15 December at 7.30pm the St Mary’s Arts Collective - in partnership with a professional choir and with a collection of nine visual and performance artists from around London - will perform this traditional service with a twist: not only will beautiful choral music be sung, but more exploratory works - from film to stand-up comedy - will compliment the songs (and replace the scripture readings), engaging with the Christmas story in unusual ways.  

The performance, called If On a Winter’s Night and held at St Mary’s Walthamstow in conjunction with the St Mary's Music Hall, is a journey of imagination and discovery which taps into the wonder and strangeness of the season and to a story that continues to inspire, comfort and confound people the world over. Like all great stories, the Christmas story transcends time, place and culture and speaks to universal hopes and fears.

St Mary’s is the historic parish church of Walthamstow and the recipient of a recent £1.67 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant to turn the Grade II* listed building into a centre for local arts and culture. If On a Winter’s Night is the first in a series of performances and activities supported by the Heritage Lottery as part of St Mary’s ‘Creative Church’ project, which will eventually see the building restored and renovated for art, music and culture alongside the church’s regular worship. 

Jonathan Rathbone, St Mary’s Director of Music, will curate the carols and choral pieces, and artist Garry Rutter will curate the performance pieces in collaboration with the St Mary’s Arts Collective. The performance will be free of charge thanks to the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, though you must book a free ticket here, through the St Mary's Music Hall. 

About Nine Lessons and Carols: Since its inception in 1880, the service of Nine Lessons and Carols has become a favourite of the Christmas season. It is performed in some form in many Anglican churches around the world and is a Christmas Eve tradition in thousands of households, as it is broadcast live from King’s College, Cambridge on Radio 4. The service features nine scripture readings and choral arrangements that tell the biblical narrative, from Creation to the Christmas story. Many of the UK’s favourite Christmas songs have played a part in Nine Lessons and Carols services, including, “Once in Royal David’s City.”