The format was based on an Order drawn up by Edward Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury but at that time Bishop of Truro, in Cornwall, for use on Christmas Eve 1880. Tradition says that he organized a 10:00 p.m. service on Christmas Eve in a temporary wooden structure serving as his cathedral and that the purpose of the service was to keep men out of the pubs.
The original liturgy has since been adapted and used by other churches all over the world. Lessons and Carols most often occur in Anglican churches. However, numerous Christian denominations have adopted this service, or a variation on this service, as part of their Christmas celebrations. In the UK, the service has become the standard format for schools' Christmas carol services.
The best-known version is broadcast annually from King's College, Cambridge, on Christmas Eve. It features carols sung by the famous Choir of King's College. Groton School of Groton, Massachusetts, has performed the festival longer than any institution other than King's, holding its first Lessons and Carols in 1928.
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