One of my favorite things about Christmas is the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College Cambridge. You can fly to England and stand in line for eight hours to get into the chapel, or you can just turn on the radio - thanks to the BBC, it's live around the world on Christmas Eve, locally on my nemesis radio station, WETA.
While I listened to the service this morning, I followed along with the pdf of the lessons and carols program online, so I could identify the cool modern carols and sing along with the congregation on O Come All Ye Faithful and whatnot. A lot of radio stations rebroadcast it tomorrow night - be sure to listen from the beginning to hear the boy soprano sing the first verse of Once in Royal David's City. The soloist isn't warned ahead of time; the music director points at him and he sings and millions of people hear him. This year's boy did a really nice job. Sometimes they sound terrified.
Once in Royal David's City has always been one of my favorite Christmas hymns. I was surprised to learn this year (from a book about the lessons and carols service that Molly B gave me) that the hymn is Victorian - I assumed it was older, but no, it was a poem written by a nice 19th-century lady who wanted to teach children about the life of Christ. The book describes it as "Victorian sentimentality." Well, goldurn it, if this is Victorian sentimentality, the world needs more Victorian sentimentality.
Earlier this year, WETA went back to classical music after a failed two-year experiment with talk, but they did it in the most obnoxious way possible, so I hadn't given them any money - but I gave in and contributed today (while telling them in the comments field that I'm still mad at them and the contribution was for this one show only and not the rest of their lame classical-lite programming).