Midnight Mass



The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, celebrates the first mass of Christmas from St Chad's Cathedral in Birmingham. The mass setting is Monteverdi's Messa à 4 Voci da Cappella, and there will be a feast of traditional carols, including Hark! the Herald Angels Sing and O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Includes the readings: Isaiah 9:2-7; Titus 2: 11-14; Luke 2:1-14.


Live from Corpus Christi Church in Leeds, the Rt Revd Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds, celebrates the First Mass of Christmas, with the Choir of Leeds Cathedral.

In anticipation of Mozart's 250th anniversary year, the Mass setting is his Missa Brevis in F, and there's an array of popular traditional carols including O come all ye faithful, Hark! the herald angels sing, and O little town of Bethlehem.

Benjamin Saunders (director of music)

Christopher McElroy (organist).


Live from Bristol. The Bishop of Clifton, The Rt Rev Declan Lang, celebrates the traditional first Mass of Christmas with a feast of Carols sung by the Cathedral Choir.


The first Mass of Christmas is celebrated in the spectacular setting of Westminster Cathedral.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, reflects on how Christ's birth into fear and poverty can speak to a global society in the 21st century.

The service begins with a candlelit vigil of music, readings and psalms before the midnight hour is heralded by bells and the singing of the Gloria.

Mass setting: Missa ad praesepe (George Malcolm)

Office Hymn: Of the Father's hear

Psalm 18: Diffusa est gratia (Byrd)

Reading: Isaiah 11

O Magnum mysterium (Poulenc)

Reading from Leo the Great

Carol: O little town of Bethlehem

Nesciens mater (Mouton)

A spotless rose (Herbert Howells)

Master of music: Martin Baker

Assistant master of music: Matthew Martin.


From Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral with the archbishop of Liverpool, Patrick Kelly.

The first Mass of Christmas is celebrated in the spectacular setting of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

In his homily, the archbishop of Liverpool the Most Rev Patrick Kelly explores how the birth of a baby into poverty and fear 2,000 years ago could have significance in our lives today.

Music includes popular traditional carols including O Come, All Ye Faithful and Haydn's St Nicholas Mass.

Director of music: Timothy Noon

  • organist: richard lea

  • 20091224

    The first Mass of Christmas is celebrated from St Anne's Cathedral in Leeds.

    The celebrant and preacher is the Right Rev Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds.

    The choir of Leeds Cathedral, directed by Benjamin Saunders, sings a wealth of carols old and new; the setting is Mozart's joyful Missa Brevis in C (KV 259). Organist: Christopher McElroy.


    Live from The Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad in Birmingham.

    The Most Rev'd Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, celebrates the First Mass of Christmas and gives the homily.

    The Cathedral Singers, many of whom are staff and students at the Birmingham Conservatoire sing carols and Christmas hymns to welcome the birth of Christ under the direction of the Director of Music David Saint, accompanied by organist, Nigel Morris.

    Producer: Clair Jaquiss.

    Mass for Christmas from the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Chad in Birmingham.


    Live from York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, celebrates the First Mass of Christmas and gives the homily.

    Richard Shephard's Mass of the Nativity is sung by the St William's Singers accompanied by the York Young Soloists Orchestra, led by Sophie Lockett and under the direction of the composer.

    Traditional carols include 'It came upon the midnight clear', 'O little town of Bethlehem' and 'O come all ye faithful.' The readings are Isaiah 52 vv7-10 and John 1 vv1-14.

    The Organist is York Minster's Assistant Director of Music, David Pipe, and the Producer is Stephen Shipley.

    The first Mass of Christmas live from York Minster led by the Archbishop of York.


    Glory to the new born King

    Radio 4 visits the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool for the first Mass of Christmas in the company of a congregation of nearly two thousand people. The Principal Celebrant is the Rt Revd Thomas Williams, Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool, assisted by the Dean and Clergy of the Cathedral. The cathedral choir, directed by Christopher McElroy sings Haydn's St Nicholas Mass, carols and Christmas music with organ (Richard Lea) and brass to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the light of the world.

    Producer: Clair Jaquiss.


    Live from The Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad in Birmingham. The Most Rev'd Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham celebrates the First Mass of Christmas and gives the homily. The choir of St Chad's under the direction of David Saint sings carols to welcome the birth of Christ. Organist: Nigel Morris.

    Producer: Stephen Shipley.


    A Venetian-style First Mass of Christmas with splendid Gabrieli motets and Palestrina's Missa Hodie Christus Natus Est (Today Christ is Born) make for a very special atmosphere as the Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols celebrates the First Mass of Christmas live from Westminster Cathedral. The vibrant sounds of traditional sackbutts and cornets played by the vituoso English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble will echo and re-echo around the cathedral exploiting its unique spacial properties. The service closes with the resplendent brass and organ voluntary: Hodie Christus Natus Est by Heinrich Schutz. The renowned choir of Westminster Cathedral is directed by Master of Music Martin Baker and the organ is played by the Assistant Master of Music Peter Stevens. Cathedral Administrator: Canon Christopher Tuckwell; Precentor: Fr Alexander Master. Producer: Clair Jaquiss.


    The First Mass of Christmas comes live from Brentwood Cathedral in Essex. The service is led by the Bishop of Brentwood, the Rt Rev Alan Williams, and the preacher is the Dean, Fr Martin Boland. Music includes hymns 'O come all ye faithful', 'On Christmas Night all Christians Sing' and 'Hark! The herald angels sing'. Brentwood Cathedral Choir is directed by Andrew Wright and the organists are Stephen King and James Devor. Producer Andrew Earis.

    Genome: [r4 Bd=19911224]

    from St Patrick's Church, Cranagh, in Co Tyrone, with Fr John McCullagh.

    Readings: Isaiah 9, w 1-7; Titus 2, w 11-14; Luke 2, w 1-14. Hymns: Joy to the World; 0 Come, All Ye

    Faithful; Away in a Manger; The Shepherds' Carol;

    Silent Night. Choirmistress Olivia McGillion. Stereo


    Unknown: Fr John McCullagh.

    Unknown: Choirmistress Olivia McGillion.

    Genome: [r4 Bd=19911224]

    Unknown: Fr John McCullagh.

    Unknown: Choirmistress Olivia McGillion.

    Genome: [r4 Bd=19921224]

    from the Church of St

    Marylebone in London.

    With the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev David Hope. Introit: Frohlochet ihr

    Volker auf Erden. Hymns: Silent Night It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, 0 Come All Ye Faithful. Readings: Hebrews 11, w 1-14; John 1, vv 1-14. Director of Music Peter Barley.

    Genome: [r4 Bd=19921224]

    Unknown: David Hope.

    Genome: [r4 Bd=19931224]

    from the Cathedral of Our Lady and St Thomas , Northampton. Celebrant and preacher Rt Rev Leo McCartie , Bishop of Northampton. 0 little town of Bethlehem (CH 235); Silent night (CH 277); Unto us is born a Son (CH 337); Angels we have heard on high (CH 22); Gathering mass (Inwood); Isaiah 9 w 1-7; Titus 2 w 11-14; Luke 2 w 1-14.

    Choral director Alison Jackson.

    Organist Peter Kalve.

    Genome: [r4 Bd=19931224]

    Unknown: St Thomas

    Unknown: Rt Rev Leo McCartie

    Organist: Alison Jackson.

    Organist: Peter Kalve.

    Programme Catalogue - Details: 01 December 199019901201

    Producer: J. BUMPUS

    Next in series: 24 December 1994

    Previous in series: 24 December 1977

    Broadcast history

    01 Dec 1990 23:10-23:25 (RADIO 3)

    Recorded on 1990-11-08.