It was in 1880, that Rev Edward Benson of Truro, later to become Archbishop of Canterbury, introduced a format of a service to cover the whole Christmas-tide story. It utilised nine Lessons and nine Carols (for choir and/or congregation). Lessons are read by various members of the Church, ending-up with the senior member of the Clergy. Whilst the readings are generally unchanged, there is a flexibility in Hymns or Carols, and many modern ones have crept in over the years.
It can be very emotive, especially if it is lit only by candlelight, and the sound of the first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ by a young voice can be something else! I still remember the tingle when my son stood alone for his solo, to be followed by the rest of the choir joining him in the choir stalls.
It is probably the one time of the year when the occasional visitor to a church could join in with most of the singing, so it is the chance for the Church to ‘show-off’ its beliefs, with a minimum of Liturgy, to the maximum number of people.
This year we joined with St Aidan’s at Clarkston in this marvellous event. We have been there before at a full Service, and it was very satisfying to go back. To use a well-known phrase, it was a ‘packed programme’ and again the building was full. Rector Colin, and Julie the organist, had put together a wonderful selection of all the well-known carols.
There was a tinge of sadness as one of the great choir members of St Aidan’s had passed away recently at a goodly age. He was very enthusiastic about the 85th Anniversary of the Church, and was looking forward to this one. But it was not to be! Also one of our very popular members was absent due to serious ill-health, after having been at all our practices.
The carols were:-
- Three lovely children sang the first verse of ‘Once in royal David’s city’.
- O Come all Ye Faithful
- Silent Night
- It came upon the midnight clear
- Angels from the realms of glory
- Joy to the World
- Of the Father’s love begotten
- O little town of Bethlehem
- While shepherds watched their flocks by night
- We three Kings
- Hark the herald Angels
Audrey McKirdy sang us ‘Mid Winter’ by Bob Chilcott, John Rutter’s ‘Shepherd’s Pipe Carol’, and his haunting ‘The Lord bless Thee’. Julie Legowski was again at the organ and accomplished as usual! And can I say that the combined choir excelled itself again!
Mince pies and mulled wine completed a lovely evening!….here’s to next year!