Lessons and Carols

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.

Some of Angelus, St Aidan's Christmas 2008

Some of Angelus, St Aidan's Christmas 2008

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!



Sing to the sick


16th December 2008


Some of us were at Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow, last night for a carol-singing event.We joined many others from the Cathedral, and other Churches (in total about 40 folk), for an event  organised by the Chaplaincy Centre, which involved dividing into groups and going round various parts of the hospital to sing carols.

You need music of course…… one groups had a guitar, and, in one lovely case, a set of hand-bells, whilst your’s-truly brought along David’s keyboard for our group.

p2130209Unfortunately the keyboard had no stand, and was mains-powered, so at each location (generally in a passageway near wards), we had to find some flat surface to place the keyboard, a chair, and a mains-socket.

As you will realise, all of the above are in short supply in such a situation. You can’t ACTUALLY push someone out of bed to set the keyboard down, so sometimes it was on a trolley, and sometimes on my knees! And,  the risk of pulling-out some vital piece of life-saving equipment is always there so we had to do a lot of double-checking before getting power!

What came over to me again was that there are a considerable number of people in hospital, all with their individual worries. It is something we only think about when we have to go into a hospital, or see a programme on TV.

In life we mostly see normal, reasonably-healthy people, and so it is easy to forget the pain, suffering, and anguish, which people and families have to endure on a daily basis, and in an especially-poignant way, at this time of the year.

Do singing and music in general help the healing process? There is some evidence to show that people who sing regularly, and enjoy music,  tend to have a happier disposition and a slightly-better average life. So maybe we did make a minute difference.

But it will be a long time before I will forget the look on some of those people. We obviously could say no more than platitudes…you sometimes just don’t know what to say.

Many of the serious cases may well not be home for Christmas, but if we have raised a small smile of joy, or a glimpse of recognition of Christmasses past, then we will have achieved something.

At St Mary’s Aberfoyle, again

October 5 2008….Sung Evensong


Aberfoyle is often rightly called the Gateway to the Highlands and is visited by probably tens of thousands of people every year. Unfortunately many simply go to the shops and the ubiquitous Edinburgh Woolen Mill (whose Head Office is in the Borders!). Many others go to the David Marshall Lodge for the stunning views.

And yet one of the things which draws me back, is the lovely little St Mary’s Church sitting proudly on the shoulder of the village just as you enter it……a haven of tranquility. Although it bears the same name as our Cathedral in Glasgow it is totally different, and is ideal for the service of Sung Evensong. (If you don’t know much about this Service, click on the link ‘Evensong….the story’ under Categories.)

This is the second time we have been involved in Evensong here….last time we had a retired Bishop preaching, this time the local Church of Scotland Minister, Rev Linda Stewart took the Pulpit, with a contemplative sermon on the Marriage at Cana.

It boasts a wonderful Willis organ, played by Jean……who is a very self-effacing but most competent and sympathetic accompanist. The Church is about to have major structural work carried-out, so we were pleased to be able to come on a beautiful star-lit evening to join with the faithful in the delightful words we have heard so many times before, but which still have so much meaning.

 Introit:-  ‘A Touching Place’ to the tune ‘Dream Angus’ (see the end of this post, for the original words of Dream  Angus (a Scottish Lullaby)

Anthem:- ‘O Lord my heart is not proud’  by Margaret Rizza (See under ‘Categories’ for more information on Margaret Rizza)
Dreams to sell, fine dreams to sell,
Angus is here wi’ dreams to sell o
Hush my wee bairnie an’ sleep wi’ oot fear
Dream Angus has brought you a dream my dear.
Can ye no hush yer weepin’
A’ the wee bairns are sleepin’
Birdies are nestling, an’ nestling’ the gither
But my bonnie bairn is waken yet
Dreams to sell, fine dreams to sell,
Angus is here wi’ dreams to sell o
Hush my wee bairnie an’ sleep wi’ oot fear
Dream Angus has brought you a dream my dear
Hear the curlew cryin’ o
An’ the echoes dyin’ o
Even the birdies are cuddled up sleepin
But my bonnie bairn is weepin’ greetin’
Dreams to sell, fine dreams to sell,
Angus is here wi’ dreams to sell o
Hush my wee bairnie an’ sleep wi’ oot fear
Dream Angus has brought you a dream my dear
Soon the lavrock sings his song
Welcoming the coming dawn
Lambies coorie doon the gither
Wi’ the yowies in the heathe
Dreams to sell, fine dreams to sell,
Angus is here wi’ dreams to sell o
Hush my wee bairnie an’ sleep wi’ oot fear
Dream Angus has brought you a dream my dear.

Pitlochry Eucharist

May 18th….2008

Holy Trinity Pitlochry…..Evening Sung Eucharist

This was not our normal Evensong, but a Sung Eucharist. This had been postponed from the morning, because there was a road cycle race through that area. The main road was cut off, and the noise generated by them would have precluded any peaceful Morning Service. We therefore had a different repertoire to learn, but all went well, with a full church….and the usual ‘feed’ afterwards.

‘Sanctus and Benedictus’ by James MacMillan

‘Kyrie Eleison’ by L.J.Whyte

Anthem:- ‘O, Lord, my heart is not proud’…music by Margaret Rizza

Vesper:- ‘May the road rise to meet you’….Irish Traditional


Some of Choir at Pitlochry2008

Some of Choir at Pitlochry2008


St Aidan is 85 years old?….never!


 31st Aug 2008

Clarkston  is an attractive leafy suburb on the Southern outskirts of Glasgow, and well-placed just off the main road is the delightful Episcopal Church dedicated to St Aidan. It is a ‘solid’ little building and most certainly does not look its age of 85 years, due to the care and attention of those responsible. It is of unusual internal design with individual seating, and the Choir and Organ at the rear of the building. If you look under 2008 Events you will see a photo of the inside. A splendid new reception area and connecting corridor join the Church with the Hall.

They have been holding a number of celebrations in the week leading-up to 31st August, culminating in Sung Evensong, and we were priveleged to be part of it. The service was lead by Rev Colin Curtis, and the preacher was the Primus Idris Jones. Julie Legowski was the organist, and there was a total of 19 in the Choir. (unfortunately three of our members had fixed-up their holiday at this time….or were not well……..how in-considerate can you get!).

Our final practice was in the Sunday afternoon when we all had the chance to get our indecision and mistakes out of the way. Those who were not cognizant of Anglican liturgican music did well in absorbing the traditions of centuries within a short time! Some two hours later we broke for tea . You have to be careful, of course, not to drink TOO much tea!

The service itself was a wonderful event with an absolutely packed church and the congregational singing was great, with familiar and new music being used. (See under 2008 Events for the music) As is usual at these events more tea was provided at the end as well as a nice fruit punch!

All in all a wonderful end to the commemorations and we wish them well for the years to come.

Introit:- ‘Calm Me, Lord’ (David Adam/Margaret Rizza)

Nunc Dimittis:- new single Chant ‘St Aidan’

Vesper:- ‘A Parting Blessing’ (Music by J.Jerome Williams to traditional words)

The complete choir (and organist in the middle in the grey suit)at St Aidan's Evensong
















Hope this gives you a flavour of the enjoyable time we had. There may well be some more photos later.

Killin and Falls of Dochart


June 1st….2008

St Fillan’s, Killin…………..Sung Evensong

First time since 1984 that Evensong had been held in this beautiful part of Perthshire, where the Falls of Dochart can prove an exciting backdrop for the intrepid photographer.

Introit:- Sweet is the work, my God, my King’

Anthem:- ‘Sanctum nomen Domini’ 

Vesper:- ‘God that madest earth and heaven’…Words by Reginald Hebert (1783-1826) and Richard Whately (1787-1863)


 The simple beauty of the empty St Fillan’s Church


Part of our choir, Angelus, went to the little Episcopal church of St Fillan’s, in the Perthshire village of Killin. last Sunday. For those of you who do not follow my blog, we go to areas where they have no Church choir, and perhaps not even an organist, and sing the Service of Evensong.

It is sometimes known as the ‘English Church’ , or the ‘tin church’ due to the external construction which is corrugated iron. However, inside it quite standard wood, and is warm and cosy.

We were lucky on this occasion to have the services of a wonderful organist who brought notes from an instrument which you would not know existed…..many thanks….’keyboard expert’!

Killin has only a small population outwith the holiday season, so the congregation of St Fillan’s is also relatively-small. When it was arranged, I did not realise that Evensong had not been held there since 1984! So it was really wonderful that members from all the other Churches, as well as visitors from the local caravan site were represented.

Following our choir practice in another local church, we were treated to the usual ‘feed’. You have to be very careful not to eat TOO much, inviting tho’ it may be! It was all so tempting that it was difficult to resist….even knowing that we would be spending some time standing up and sitting down….and you can’t exactly dash out to the loo in the middle of a hymn!

What had started as a dry, if cloudy, day turned into a rather soggy return journey, but nevertheless I hope that the 21 good people of Killin found it as inspiring as we did.