The pick of the Christmas season

The pick of the Christmas season
Nacho Libre

TG 4, Saturday, December 23, 10.55 pm

(2006) Starring Jack Black. Directed by Jared Hess. Berated all his life by those around him, a monk follows his dream and dons a mask to moonlight as a Luchador (Mexican wrestler). Warm, funny, and some would say tasteless in spots.

Sacred Music at Christmas

BBC 4 Saturday (night), December 23, 1.00 am

Simon Russell Beale explores how the sound of Christmas has evolved in response to changing ideas about the Nativity. His story takes us from a fragment of papyrus preserving the earliest known piece of Christian music to the stories behind Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night and In the Bleak Midwinter, and the work of popular Christmas composer, John Rutter. Music is performed by Harry Christophers and his choir, The Sixteen.

In Concert

EWTN Saturday (night 23), December 2 am

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (Collegium Vocale Gent).

The Rose Ensemble

RTÉ Lyric fm, Christmas Eve, 12.00 midday

La Nochebuena: A Spanish Renaissance Christmas with the Rose Ensemble. Tom Crann, a ghost of Lyric Christmases past, presents a programme of seasonal Spanish music played by medieval music group the Rose Ensemble.   Serene choral music from 16th-Century masters is balanced with spirited cantigas for solo voice and harp, Spanish-language villancicos from court and countryside, and lively dances for vihuela, harp and percussion.

Carols from King’s

BBC 2, Christmas Eve, 5.45 pm and Christmas Day, 11 am

A solo chorister sings Once in Royal David’s City to begin the traditional celebration of Christmas from the candlelit Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge. The world-famous choir, directed by Stephen Cleobury, sings a glorious selection of carols, including the Sussex Carol (arr. Ledger), O Holy Night (arr. Rutter), Away in a Manger (arr. Willcocks) and O Magnum Mysterium (Lauridsen). The Christmas story is told in the words of the King James Bible and in poems by Christina Rossetti and Christopher Pilling.

Angela’s Christmas

RTÉ 1, Christmas Eve, 6.20 pm

Set in Ireland in the early 1900s, Angela’s Christmas is a funny, heart-warming and poignant story about the power of family and the innocent desire of a child to ensure everyone is safe, warm and loved at Christmas time.  Animation from Brown Bag studio.

Carols From The Castle

RTÉ 1 Christmas Eve 9:15 pm and Christmas Day 6.50 am

Mary Kennedy brings Christmas magic into every home with a special evening of festive music, old and new, from the magnificently decked halls of Dublin Castle. Mary and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra are joined by legendary folk singer, Ralph McTell, teenage Centenary sensation, Síbeal Ní Chasaide, Irish Country’s Band of Brothers, The Three Amigos, and many more, all under the baton of conductor David Brophy.

Christmas Carols 2017

be3  Christmas Eve 11.30 pm and UTV 11.45 pm

Singing superstar Alfie Boe leads the congregation of St Elisabeth’s Church in Greater Manchester in a traditional Christmas Eve carol service.The celebrations include festive performances from Nadine Coyle, formerly of Girls Aloud; soul singer Alexander O’Neal, Howard Hewett of Shalamar, pianist Alexis French, and West End stars Ruthie Henshall and Natasha Barnes.

Midnight Mass

RTÉ 1, Christmas Eve, 11.00 pm

A live Eurovision broadcast shared across the continent, to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a church dedicated to that event. The Celebrant and Preacher is the Very Rev. Terence Toner, Parish Priest. Music comes from Kilmessan Church Choir and the Treble Children’s Choir, directed by Lisa Rooney, featuring soloists Aideen Coyle and Maria McCool.

Midnight Mass from Leeds Cathedral

BBC 1, Christmas Eve, 11.45 pm

The traditional Christmas Eve celebration of Midnight Mass, live from St Anne’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Leeds, introduced by the Rev. Msgr Phillip Moger, Cathedral Dean. The bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev. Marcus Stock, is the principal celebrant and preacher. Leeds Cathedral Choir, with director of music Benjamin Saunders, lead the congregation in well-loved carols. The Mass setting is Haydn’s St Nicholas Mass.

The Leap of Faith

RTÉ Radio 1, Christmas Day, 8 am

Michael Comyn serves up a special seasonal edition of the religious series for people of all faiths and none.

Mass for Christmas Day

RTÉ 1, Christmas Day, 10.00 am

Live Eurovision Mass for Christmas Day from the church of Sant Abbondio, in Gentilino, in the Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland. The Celebrant is Don Italo Molinaro, with commentary and translation from Aidan Mathews.

Urbi et Orbi – Pope Francis’ Christmas Message

EWTN and RTÉ 1, Christmas Day, 11.00 am

Pope Francis’ Christmas Message from St Peters Basilica, Rome, with commentary and translation from Fr Thomas McCarthy, OP.

The Archbishops’ Christmas Message

RTÉ 1, Christmas Day, 
12.10 pm

The Roman Catholic and Anglican Primates of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin and Archbishop Richard Clarke, offer a seasonal message of faith, hope and charity.

Tom Jones and Beverley Knight’s Gospel Christmas

BBC 2, Christmas Day, 9.00 pm  and St Stephen’s Day  (night) 1.10 am

Sir Tom Jones and Beverley Knight present a special evening of music and spiritual cheer from Cardiff. Featuring performances of traditional gospel, carols and songs of spiritual intent from modern greats like Prince and Bob Dylan by choirs and a house band from the British gospel scene.

The Blue of the Night with Bernard Clarke

RTÉ Lyric fm, Christmas Day, 9 pm

Claudio Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers of the Blessed Virgin truly exemplifies one of its composer’s own core beliefs: “The end of all good music is to affect the soul.” Forgotten for centuries, today the work has become one of the great pillars of the Baroque vocal-and-orchestral repertoire.

In Concert

EWTN, Wednesday, December 27, 11 am

The King’s Singers  perform Christmas music.

Baz and Nancy’s Holy Show

RTÉ 1, Wednesday, December 27, 11.15 pm

With Nancy’s 75th birthday fast approaching, her only son Baz is determined to get her a gift that will truly impress her. Baz wants to present her with a chance to see the Pope.

EWTN Bookmark

EWTN, Thursday, December 28, 10.30 pm

Mystery of the Magi – the quest to identify the Three Wise Men.

Songs of Praise: The Big Sing

BBC 1, Sunday, December 31, 3.35 pm

New Year’s Eve. Claire McCollum travels by boat from the London Eye to the Greenwich prime meridian to find out what New Year means to Christians.

5,000 Songs of Praise viewers raise the roof of the Royal Albert Hall with glorious hymns including Let All the World in Every Corner Sing, Crown Him with Many Crowns and Over All the Earth. Plus there are special performances from Westlife’s Shane Filan, Mary Jess and all-boy choir Libera.

FILM: Noah

BBC 2, Monday, January 1, 10.00 pm

(2014) Biblical epic from Darren Aronofsky. Noah experiences visions that a great flood is on the way and that he has been chosen to build an ark to save Earth’s animals.

With no room for compromise, Noah clashes with his family and tough Tubal-cain as his single-minded quest looks set to spell the death of thousands.

Striking scenes and some odd choices. Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson. Dir: Darren Aronofsky.

Westminster Abbey

BBC 2, Wednesday, January 3, 11.00 am

The choir of Westminster Abbey prepares for a historic visit to Rome to sing with the Sistine Chapel Choir in the Papal Mass in St Peter’s Basilica. For the Abbey Choir and the Sistine Chapel Choir, rehearsing and performing together is a significant moment in the history of both the Catholic Church and the Church of England. The choir received this invitation from Pope Benedict XVI after his historic visit to the abbey in 2010.

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