Eric Milner-White introduced the format of an Advent Carol Service in 1934 as a means to prepare for the coming of our Lord in a vivid and meaningful way.
The service is similar to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols for Christmas, where structure is provided by the lessons, each one followed by an appropriate carol. Based on the old English Advent Offices, in this Advent service the first four lessons are taking up the theme of the Responsory from the ancient Matins for Advent, with passages from the prophets that look forward to the Day of the Lord. Typically, lessons five and six are taken from the Gospels, foretelling the birth of Christ and proclaiming the kingdom of God : ‘Tomorrow go ye forth, and the Lord, he will be with you.’
The St James' Choir will sing the Responsories by Palestrina, as well as the carols Es ist ein Ros entsprungen by Hugo Distler, O thou, the central orb by Charles Wood, Ave Maria by William Byrd, and Sleepers, wake! by Felix Mendelssohn. And, of course, there will be wonderful Advent carols to sing by all, including Lo, he comes with clouds descending.