Christmas 2023 Religious Programming on the BBC Radio and BBC Sounds


BBC Sounds

Radio 2

Sunday 10 December

Good Morning Sunday

The Reverend Kate Bottley and Jason Mohammad are joined by Sir Cliff Richard who is celebrating 65 years in the music business, plus they present the Good Morning Sunday Chorister of the Year Special.

In a one hour special, Sir Cliff reflects on his career, how he was influenced by Elvis, which pieces of music have inspired him and chats about his new album, Cliff With Strings, which is a selection of re-imagined versions of his classic tracks.

Also presenting the Good Morning Sunday Young Chorister of the Year Special, Revd. Kate was with the talented hopefuls every step of the way as they sang for the coveted title and trophy. She speaks to the Junior and Senior Young Chorister of the Year and plays their winning entries as well as highlights from the main event. There’s a chance to hear their beautiful rendition of Christmas song, ‘Do you hear what I hear?’ It’s a festive feast not to be missed and is dripping with Christmas sparkle.

You can hear highlights from the Young Chorister of the Year semi-finals and final in full on BBC Sounds from 1.30pm on Sunday 3rd December 2023; Songs of Praise will broadcast the final on the same day (also available on iPlayer).

Presenters: Reverend Kate Bottley and Jason Mohammad
Producer: Katharine Longworth for BBC Audio North.

Monday 25 December

Good Morning Christmas

Live on Christmas Day, the Reverend Kate Bottley celebrates with carols, festive greetings and a special message. The programme will feature a specially curated mix of listeners’ favourite seasonal songs and sing-a-long carols.

Presenter: Revd. Kate Bottley
Producer: Mark Plant
A BBC Audio production.

Beverley's Great British Gospel Christmas

Beverley Knight, West End star and Britain's soulful sweetheart, hosts an upbeat celebration of gospel music from the UK and Ireland, festive songs and traditional carols to round off your Christmas evening.

Beverley Knight says: “I’m looking forward to getting into the spirit of Christmas, so to be hosting my Great British Gospel Christmas this evening on Radio 2, with incredible music from both heritage and upcoming gospel artists, is a joy!”

Presenter: Beverley Knight
Producer: Chris Mitchell & Bernard Achampong
A We Are Unedited production.

Radio 3

Sunday 3 December

A Service for Advent with Carols

A Service for Advent with Carols, from the Chapel of St John’s College, Cambridge, recorded on Sunday 26 November.

The pattern of the service, in its four sections, reflects the season’s growing anticipation, both of the first coming of Christ and of that Day when the prayer Thy Kingdom come is finally and fully answered. The music reflects those themes, and includes a new work written especially for the service by Joanna Marsh, to a text newly written by priest and poet, Malcolm Guite.

Introit: There is no rose (Gerald Hendrie)
Opening Sentence
Processional Hymn: Come thou redeemer of the earth (Puer nobis nascitur, descant Christopher Gray)
Bidding Prayer
Carol: Deus, Deus meus (Roxanna Panufnik)

I The Message of Advent
Sentence and Collect
Antiphons: O Sapientia and O Adonaï
First Lesson: Mark 13 vv.32-36
Motet: Vigilate (Byrd)
Second Lesson: Isaiah 11 vv.1-5
Carol: A tender shoot (Kerensa Briggs)

II The Word of God
Sentence and Collect
Antiphons: O Radix Jesse and O Clavis David
Third Lesson: Hebrews 4 vv.12-16
Carol: This is the truth (Trad., arr. Vaughan Williams and Christopher Robinson)
Fourth Lesson: Luke 4 vv. 14-21
Hymn: O come, O come Emmanuel (Veni Emmanuel, descant David Hill)

III The Prophetic Call
Sentence and Collect
Antiphons: O Oriens and O Rex Gentium
Fifth Lesson: Malachi 3 vv. 1-7
Motet: Fuit homo missus a Deo (Praetorius)
Sixth Lesson: Matthew 3 vv. 1-11
Hymn: On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry (Winchester New, descant Christopher Robinson)

IV The God-Bearer
Sentence and Collect
Antiphon: O Emmanuel
Anthem: Bogoroditse Dyevo (Rachmaninoff)
Seventh Lesson: Luke 1 vv. 26-38
Magnificat: The Truro Service (Russell Pascoe)
Eighth Lesson: The Annunciation (Edwin Muir)
Anthem: The Hidden Light (Joanna Marsh) – New commission

The Christmas Collect
Carol: Noel – Verbum caro factum est (Tamsin Jones)
Hymn: Of the Father’s heart begotten (Divinum mysterium, arr. Willcocks)
The College Prayer and The Blessing
Organ Voluntary: In dir ist Freude, BWV 615 (Bach)

Christopher Gray (Director of Music)
Alexander Robson (Herbert Howells Organ Scholar)
The Revd Canon Dr Mark Oakley (Dean)
The Revd Andrew Hammond (Chaplain)

Monday 4 December


In a series spread across four weeks (beginning Monday 27 November), Compline returns on the four Mondays before Christmas. The office of night prayer takes the form of a sequence of words and music which provides a moment of stillness and reflection at the end of the day.

On Monday 4 December, Compline will come from Corpus Christi Church, Leeds, including works by Sheppard, Tallis, and Byrd, sung by the senior girls and choral scholars of Leeds Cathedral choir.

Introit: In pace (Sheppard)
Hymn: Te lucis ante terminum (Tallis)
Psalms 6,7 (Plainsong)
Reading: Mark 1 vv.1-8
Responsory: In manus tuas (Tallis)
Canticle: Nunc dimittis a5 (Byrd)
Marian Antiphon: Alma redemptoris (Plainsong)
Thomas Leech (conductor)

Monday 11 December


From St Thomas' Church Kirkholt, Rochdale, including works by Brian Foy and Matthew Larkin, sung by the Diocese of Manchester Choral Scholars.

Introit: Advent Prose (Plainsong)
Preces (Plainsong)
Hymn: Before the ending of the day (Plainsong)
Psalm 28 (Plainsong)
Reading: Isaiah 40 vv.3-5
Responsory: Into thy hands, O Lord (Plainsong)
Anthem: Veni, Veni Emmanuel (Trad, arr. Brian Foy)
Canticle: Nunc dimittis (Plainsong)
Anthem: Adam lay y bounden (Matthew Larkin)
Andrew Earis (conductor)

Sunday 17 December

EBU Christmas Around Europe

BBC Radio 3’s annual day of live and recorded Christmas concerts gathered together by the European Broadcasting Union.

Presented in intervals throughout the day, this year’s offering includes concerts from Amsterdam (featuring the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge), Stockholm, Helsinki, Reykjavik (featuring experimental ensemble Nordic Affect), Copenhagen, Hanover, and Paris (the complete Nutcracker ballet).

9am-1pm EBU Christmas Around Europe: Part 1
2pm-3pm EBU Christmas Around Europe: Part 2
4pm-11.30pm EBU Christmas Around Europe: Part 3

Monday 18 December


From the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Englefield Green, including works by Ben Parry, Stainer and Rupert Gough, sung by the choir of Royal Holloway, University of London.

Introit: O nata lux (Ben Parry)
Blessing of Light: Phos hilaron (Stainer)
Preces (Plainsong)
Hymn: Round me falls the night (Arnstadt)
Psalm 143 (Plainsong)
Reading: Mark 13 vv.32-37
Responsory: Into thy hands, O Lord (Plainsong)
Canticle: Nunc dimittis (Rupert Gough)
Anthem: A hymn to Christ (Imogen Holst)
Rupert Gough (conductor)

Wednesday 20 December

Choral Evensong live from Norwich Cathedral
4pm-5pm (repeated Sunday 24 December, 3pm-4pm)

Choral Evensong for the Wednesday before Christmas, live from Norwich Cathedral. The service includes a new work composed for the broadcast by Kerensa Briggs, and is a setting of one of the O Antiphons, used in the seven days leading up to Christmas

Introit: O Clavis David (Kerensa Briggs) (world premiere)
Responses: Michael Nicholas
Office hymn: O come, O come Emmanuel (Veni Emmanuel, arr. Ashley Grote)
Psalms 4, 9 (Martin, Elvey)
First Lesson: Isaiah 51 vv.1-8
Canticles: Collegium Magalenae Oxoniense (Leighton)
Second Lesson: 2 Thessalonians 1 vv.1-12
Anthem: Angelus ad Virginem (Matthew Martin)
Hymn: Lo! he comes with clouds descending (Helmsley)
Voluntary: Symphonie-Passion (Le monde dans l’attente du sauveur) (Dupré)
Ashley Grote (Master of Music)
David Dunnett (Organist)

Wednesday 27 December

Choral Evensong from the Chapel of Lancing College
4pm-5pm (repeated Sunday 31 December, 3pm-4pm)

Choral Evensong for the Wednesday after Christmas, from the Chapel of Lancing College on the Feast of John, Apostle and Evangelist, recorded on Tuesday 28 November. The music includes seasonal hymns and carols.

Introit: Torches (Joubert)
Responses: Sanders
Office hymn: Word supreme, before creation (Grafton)
Psalm 97 (Middleton)
First Lesson: Isaiah 6 vv.1-8
Canticles: Darke in F
Second Lesson: 1 John 5 vv.1-12
Anthem: Angelus ad Virginem (Carter)
Prayer Anthem: No small wonder (Edwards)
Hymn: Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Mendelssohn)
Te Deum: Stanford in B flat
Voluntary: Pièce Héroique (Franck)
Alexander Mason (Director of Music)
Philip White-Jones (Organist)

Wednesday 3 January

Carol Service from the Chapel of Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham
4pm-5pm (repeated Sun 7 January 3pm-4pm)

An Epiphany Carol Service from the Chapel of Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, recorded on Wednesday 13 December.

A sequence of words and music to mark the visit of the Magi to the new-born Jesus.

Introit: Morning star (Arvo Pärt)
Carol: O magnum mysterium (Dan Locklair)
First Lesson: John 1 vv.1-14
Hymn: Of the Father’s heart begotten (Divinum mysterium)
Carol: Susanni (Bryan Kelly)
Second Lesson: Isaiah 7 vv.10-15
Carol: What child is this (Rupert Gough)
Third Lesson: Matthew 1 vv.18-23
Carol: Love came down at Christmas (Eleanor Daley)
Fourth Lesson: Micah 5 vv.2-5
Hymn: Brightest and best (Epiphany)
Carol: Seeing the star (Ben Ponniah)
Fifth Lesson: Matthew 2 vv.1-2, 8-11
Carol: We three kings (Philip Stopford)
Sixth Lesson: Isaiah 60 vv.1-3, 19-20
Carol: My dancing day (George Arthur)
Seventh Lesson: Matthew 5 vv.14-16
Carol: I am the light of the world (David Bednall)
Hymn: As with gladness men of old (Dix)
Voluntary: Star Fantasy on Alleluia: Vidimus Stellam (Kristina Arakelyan)

Rupert Gough (Director of Music)
Luke Cherry, Andrej Ivanović (Organ Scholars)

Radio 4

Sunday 17 December

Sunday Worship

Continuing the advent theme of justice, the Sunday before Christmas will look at ‘a place to live’ with a service from Acocks Green Church of God of Prophecy, Birmingham, with a focus on the work they do with the local homeless community. The music will come from the AMC Gospel Choir, directed by Audrey Mattis. Produced by Miriam Williamson

Sunday 24 December


A festive edition of the Sunday programme.

Sunday Worship

From Methodist College Belfast. The fourth in Sunday Worship’s Advent series on justice – ‘The Compassion of the Christ Child’.

Lead by the Revd Emily Hyland. Preacher: The Revd Dr Janet Unsworth. The award-winning chapel choir is led by Director of Music, Ruth McCartney.

Music: All the stars looked down (John Rutter), A Ukrainian Carol (arr. Leontovych), The Blessed son of God (Vaughan Williams), Lux Aurumque (Eric Whitacre), The Lamb (John Tavener), The Holly and the Ivy (Trad arr Mark Brown), The Sussex Carol (Trad arr Mark Brown), Produced by Bert Tosh.

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols will be broadcast again this year from King’s College Cambridge (live on Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, with a repeat on Radio 3 on Christmas Day). Produced by Ben Collingwood.

Midnight Mass

The celebration of the first mass of Christmas will come live from Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, with the preacher The Most Rev Malcom McMahon OP, Archbishop and the choir of the Cathedral and Metropolitan Cathedral Brass Ensemble. Music will include favourite carols like Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Produced by Miriam Williamson.

Monday 25 December

Christmas Service

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, leads a service of Morning Worship for Christmas Day asking ‘What makes a happy Christmas?’

Music includes: Ding dong, merrily on high (arr Mack Willberg), O Come all ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles), Away in a Manger (Lucy Walker), Now may we singen (Cecilia McDowall), There is no rose (Robert Sharpe), The Lamb (Becky McGlade), O Little Town of Bethlehem (Forest Green), All this time this song is best (Walton), Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Merndelssohn)

Readings from Luke 2, John 1, and Isaiah 52. Produced by Philip Billson.

Tuesday 26 December

Christmas Meditation
26 December

Angela Berners-Wilson was the first female priest ordained in 1994. 2024 marks 30 years since she became a priest. In her retirement, Angela has taken on a new role as a spiritual tour guide Angela has taken on a new role as a spiritual tour guide and this Christmas she will be away in Obendorf, Austria, the village where Silent Night was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818. Angela will explore the spirit and spirituality of Christmas with Christmas music, reflection and a prayer.

Sunday 31 December

Sunday Worship

Throughout 2023 people from all over the world have been drawn to Norwich Cathedral to share and learn more about a woman who lived in the city 650 years ago.

Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love, the first known book written by a woman in English, has become a spiritual classic known and loved by millions and a guide to many in the way of faith, hope and love.

Julian of Norwich has become England’s most widely known female visionary. In May 1373, when she was thirty years old and suffering what was believed to be a terminal illness, she experienced a series of sixteen visions or ‘shewings’ which revealed aspects of the love of God. Following her recovery, she spent the rest of her life pondering their meaning and implications and recording her insights in writing. She became an anchoress, living in the cell attached to the small church of St Julian off King Street in Norwich, and from that cell and that time her influence has radiated to the present day and across the world.

Master of Music: Ashley Grote; Producer: Ben Collingwood.

Saturday 6 January

Archive on 4: 100 Years of Religious Broadcasting

Marking the 100th Anniversary of the first religious broadcast on the BBC.

On 6 January 1924, people formed queues outside St Martin-in-the-Fields in anticipation of witnessing the first ever broadcast of a church service. To mark this anniversary, the priest and journalist Giles Fraser tells the story of Britain's uneasy relationship with religion through 100 years of religious broadcasting.

Producer: Amanda Hancox

Radio 4 Longwave

Daily Service

In the week up to Christmas, Daily Service will feature recordings from a festive Christmas Carol Concert recorded with an audience in Media City, Salford, featuring the Daily Service Singers, the BBC Young Chorister, Metropolitan Brass Ensemble and gospel artist Angel Morgan. Presenters will include the Bishop of Manchester David Walker, Canon Ann Easter and Canon Dr Rachel Mann.

Source BBC Sounds

December 1, 2023 2:00am ET by Pressparty  


  Shortlink to this content:


Latest Press Releases