Saturday, 23 December 2017

An English Christmas

For many people, Christmas begins on Christmas Eve when a single clear-voiced treble from the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, sings the first verse of “Once in Royal David’s City”, a heart-wrenching moment, audible via the BBC World Service to a potential listenership of 40 million.

Our own Christmas Carol service in the village church, St Andrew's in the Parish of Castle Combe, began in very much the same way. It is a stirring and beautiful tradition, sung for us by a sublime soprano voice standing at the west door of the church. By the time the rest of the congregation had finished the second verse in unison, the church was filled with visible breath and a familiar warm & merry energy that belongs exclusively to Christmas gatherings.  

Our 6pm Carol service began without a vicar. He'd been told that the service began at 7pm. When he did arrive, at around 6.10pm, he emphasised how early he was. Taking over the service part way in, it took him a moment to find his place.

Vicar: Have you had the Bidding Prayer?
Congregation: Yes!
Vicar: Good, I don't need to do that. Have you blessed the crib?
Congregation: Yes!
Vicar: Very good. I can tick that off. Right, 
then you can all sing Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

At one point he was heard in the aisle asking himself, "Okay, what happens now?" Before remembering to light the Advent Crown.

We were sat in a pew next to the organist's wife who we briefly chatted to after the service. After asking us if we lived in the village she told us she lived nearby and was there because she's married to the organist; who the parish had found on two days prior to the carol service! Apart from it being an amusing story, it was another little jolt of festive spirit.

However you spend Christmas,
have a very merry one!

Kate  x

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