23 December 2021: The Choir of Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace, in partnership with The Monarch Network, has recorded a special Christmas service exclusively for NHS hospital staff and patients.

The festive service includes well-loved carols and guest readings from HRH The Countess of Wessex, and actors Dame Penelope Wilton [pictured] and Malcolm Sinclair.

The Monarch Network is a new media company comprised of artists and organisations that provide classical music experiences to NHS cancer and paediatric hospitals in the UK.

Founded in 2021 by US harpsichordist Leslie Kwan, the company believes that the performing arts can play a vital role in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of patients and hospital staff during challenging times.

Integrating musical experiences in medical settings has become a lifeline for healthcare workers, patients and their families throughout the pandemic, as they have faced grief and trauma on a daily basis. Creating a daily practice of listening to classical music has been proven to lower dependency on prescription drugs, shorten hospital stays, and maintain higher hospital staff job satisfaction and retention. 

Leslie Kwan, Founder of The Monarch Network said: “We have all been humbled by the heroic efforts of NHS staff over the past 20 months, but we know the pandemic has taken its toll on them as much as patients. Integrating classical musical experiences in medical settings has been proven to decrease anxiety or depression. It is a palliative tool to soothe the soul and can give us a sense of hope when facing emotions that words can’t adequately describe. It has been a huge honour to partner with the Chapel Royal Choir to create this special programme for NHS staff and patients, which we hope will deliver some much-needed cheers this Christmas.”

Actor Dame Penelope Wilton said: “‘Music Heals the Soul, Music the universal language.’ All these phrases are common parlance, but that doesn’t change the sentiment. And bringing music to people who need all the help they can get seems to be the most important role music might have. So, the idea of bringing all sorts of music into hospitals is such a wonderful innovation.”

Actor Malcolm Sinclair said: “The moment I heard about this programme of giving performances to those in trouble who might need all the help they can get, I wanted to be involved. And I wanted actors to be involved as well as musicians. Christmas time is when we should look out for each other and reading in the beautiful Chapel Royal, with the magnificent choir, was an opportunity I was not going to say no to.”

The programme was recorded on Tuesday 14 December at the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace. It will be broadcast from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Eve through the Hospital Broadcast Association (HBA), a membership organisation of 120 hospital radio stations that delivers news and entertainment to over 450 hospitals around the UK.