The "Service of Nine Lessons & Carols" originated in England in 1880 and has become a Groton tradition. It was revised and expanded by the staff of King's College, Cambridge and presented in its current format in 1918 (partially honoring those killed in the First World War). Students, regardless of their own religious customs, embrace Lessons & Carols for its beauty and its window onto the history and tradition of Groton School.
It is thought that Twining Lynes, Groton's first organist and choirmaster, heard one of the earlier services and instituted it at Groton ten years later, in 1928. It has been presented yearly at Groton since that time. Groton has had only seven organists over that period—
Twining Lynes until 1941, Edward Gammons until 1973, Daniel Hathaway until 1976, Craig Smith through mid-2005, Michael Smith through mid-2011, Christopher Hampson, through mid-2014, and Dan Moriarty, our current organist.
Through the years, this service has undergone additions and revisions, but its original intention, to show the development of the loving purpose of God from Creation to the incarnation through the reading of lessons and the singing of carols, both by the congregation the choir, has been maintained. The service, often referred to as a "Devotion of Christmas," is still offered by most cathedrals and large churches in England and is broadcast annually from King's College.